I almost mentioned Kilian's name in this post but it felt like putting a jinx on him as he climbs Cho Oyu with Emelie this week. I really worry about that guy. No matter how much people work to limit their risks, mountaineering involves some luck.
I found several sad quotes from Steck, in hindsight.
As Steck told swissinfo.ch
a few years ago, he knew the risks involved in mountaineering.
“I have to be very careful since people expect a lot from me. If I don’t take myself out of this game I will die sooner rather than later. I have never climbed Everest without oxygen and it is a big challenge, even via the normal route,” Steck said in 2012.
Asked whether he felt he was risking his life, Steck answered: “I never risk my life. I’m a control freak. When I did the solo speed ascent of the Eiger North Face, I was probably safer than those parties roped together – I know that I am not going to fall. It is like walking down the stairs. You never think about falling when you just put one foot in front of the other.
From National Geographic in 2015:
As Steck faces the twilight of his career, he still has goals and dreams, but they are different than they once were. Where he was once willing to die for a line; he no longer is. “My big goal is not to go back to this Annapurna level. If you do, you’re not going to survive.” He will continue to climb, but looks forward to new opportunities, including developing products. “I will never stop climbing, I love it too much, but it will play a different part in my life than it has the last 20 years,” he says. “I am almost 40 years old. It’s time for new challenges.”
An entire article in Swissinfo where he talks about this
Considering the fact that many alpinists between 40 and 45 have accidents, Steck told the newspaper that he had asked himself “whether he should get out of the game”. However, Steck said he believed that with intense and targeted training, he could handle the risk.
“But the development is foreseeable. At some point, you’ll risk so much that you’ll crash,” Steck told the Tages-Anzeiger. Steck had already summited Everest without oxygen in 2012. Even then, he was well aware of the risk posed by advancing age.
“You have to be honest with yourself – you can only do this for a certain period of your life."