Tragedy struck Fredrik Ericsson’s attempt at the first successful ski descent of K2, the second highest mountain on earth. His partner on the trip, Italian Michele Fait fell to his death while skiing down from K2′s C2 on the SSE spur.
Ericsson and Fait had arrived at the K2 base camp on June 18th. Stationed at Camp 2, undergoing acclimatization, the two were skiing a partial descent of the mountain before their big push to the summit. It was on a partial descent of K2 yesterday that took Fait’s life.
Vinicio Stefanello, editor of PlanetMountain.com, wrote:
His skis slipped on a sheet of ice and then hit some rocks, catapulting him down to the base of the wall. More than a thousand meters left no chance for survival.
Sean Wisedale, the first African to climb the highest mountain on each continent, is currently one of four expeditions up on K2. He reported on his blog:
Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson and Italian Michele Fait were attempting to be the first to ski down K2. This morning, the weather was perfect – which was of no benefit to Fait. On the descent, the worst scenario possible happened – Fiat plummeted. Ericsson was skiing lower down the slopes and after he had seen Fiat fall, began to haul upwards to get to him. At Base Camp we watched, unsure if the fall had been fatal or not. We started to construct a make-do stretcher and prepare to assist with the rescue effort. Our leader Fabrizio headed out back up the middle of the glacier and we watched as Ericsson and Fabrizio reached Fait’s limp body 20 minutes later and began to lower him down to the base of the route. The slopes are avalanche prone and as the pair descended, Fabrizio then approached them from below. There is no way to safely recover Fait’s body today…he is secured on the slope. Fabrizio and Ericsson descended to base camp and we will attempt to recover his body tomorrow at first light.
This morning, Wisedale posted this about the recovery of Fait’s body:
We left base camp at 07h00 this morning for the foot of the Cesen route to recover Michele Fait’s body. The weather was perfect but there was a wind building from the west. Wim, Wilky, Jake, Fabrizio, Tunc, Dave, Fredrik (Michele’s skiing partner), Dave from the German expedition and I set out. On the walk in we could see Michele’s body lying on the slope. The details of the recovery are grim, save to say his body is wrapped and buried. 10 strong men stood in respect of a fellow mountaineer. Fredrik wept at the passing of his friend.
God bless Michele Fait – may he rest in peace. Our condolences to his family.
photo: (top) Michele Fait and some ice pinnacles on the Baltoro Glacier on the way to K2 base camp, (right) last minute equipment check for the K2 expedition.