Fredrik Ericsson, fatal accident on K2
On 6 August Fredrik Ericsson fell to his death from the Bottleneck on K2. The Swedish alpinist was climbing with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Austria who descended safely to Base Camp. Kaltenbrunner's husband Ralf Dujmovit provides the details about the accident.
For many K2 is the most beautiful mountain in the world. Once again though the savage mountain has shown it's most obscure side: last Friday Fredrik Ericsson fell to his death during a summit push together with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. The Austrian could do nothing other than witness the fall of her climbing companion and now, after a difficult descent, she is in Base Camp together with her husband Ralf Dujmovits, who published details of the dramatic hours on K2 on his website in German and translated into English here below. As many will remember, a year ago Michele Fait from Italy lost his life on K2, along the Cesen route, during an attempt together with Fredrik Ericsson to carry out the extremely difficult first ski descent of this mountain. Fredrik Ericsson had never stopped dreaming about this descent project. It was a dream which had bewitched him so much that he simply couldn't abandon it. So much so that when he fell forever at the start of K2's Bottleneck, he still had his skis strapped to his rucksack.
Fredrik Ericsson K2
from www.gerlinde-kaltenbrunner.at / published on 06/08/2010
After consulting the father of our friend Fredrik and after radio contact with Gerlinde I would like to report as follows about the accident which occurred during the summit attempt on K2:
Tonight at 01:30 Fredrik, his friend Trey and Gerlinde set off together from Camp IV on the shoulder of K2. Since the weather had been bad since circa 23:00 the other 6 mountaineers remained in their tents. Strong winds and poor visibility were the reasons for this decision. Charly Gabl from Innsbruck had confirmed that evening that the weather would improve during the second half of the night and so the three climbers remained with their decision. At 07:00 Gerlinde reported from the Bottleneck: only she and Fredrik were climbing upwards, in continuing poor visibility and cold wind. Trey had turned back. An hour later, at circa 08:10 Gerlinde reported with dismay: Fredirk had fallen past her and she was on her way down to look for him. A short while later she got in contact again and reported that she had found just one of Fredrick's skis. Probably Fredrik had fallen towards the large flank, to the hydrographic right of the line of ascent from Camp III. With the reduced visibility it was impossible to make out anything else. During subsequent radio contacts Gerlinde reported that Fredrik had been climbing first, unroped, and wanted to place a peg to create a belay on a small outcrop to the right of the Bottleneck. He was in deep snow and probably slipped and was unable to arrest his fall.
Gerlinde then down climbed in continuing poor visibility at circa 09:00 she met Darek Zaluski and Fabrizio Zangrilli who in the meantime had climbed up from the shoulder. My heartfelt gratitude goes to them at this point for having climbed to meet Gerlinde in these very difficult conditions. A short while later all three were back in Camp IV on the summit.
In the meantime the Russian mountaineer Yura Ermachek descended from the shoulder towards Camp III and managed to see the circa 800m high flank located to the side of the ascent route. He even managed to locate Fredrick's lifeless body circa 400m diagonally above Camp III (7200m) and possibly even his rucksack. Highly experienced Yura continued down and convinced himself that traversing the enormous flank to reach Fredrick would have have meant been extremely exposed to the risk of avalanches and ice fall. At circa 16.00 local time Fredrick's father felt that no further dangers of risks should be taken and that Fredrick should be left there, with a view onto his favourite mountains, Chogolisa and Laila Peak.
Gerlinde checked in from Camp II a few minutes ago (circa 18:15). Stonefall, a torn rope and precarious belays had rendered the descent difficult. She now wants to wait for the evening cold to put an end to the stone fall and then continue on down to Base Camp.
We all need to bid farewell to an incredibly kind person. Fredrick Ericsson was probably the strongest climber among all those here in Base Camp and extremely popular. Like no other he always managed to spread his good mood, he was always optimistic and his love for mountaineering and extreme ski descents was contagious and inspiring. Dear Fredrik, you were a fine man and will always remain as a fantastic memory. Our thoughts and sympathy go to your parents, your relatives and friends.
Ralf Dujmovits from K2-Base Camp