Well-known Swiss alpinist Erhard Loretan died on Thursday after a fall in the Bernese Alps, the Chicago Tribune has reported.
Loretan, who turned 52 on Thursday, was guiding a client up the Gruenhorn when the accident occurred. The pair had approached on skis and were roped-up and climbing at around 3,800 meters when they fell for unknown reasons, police said. Loretan died at the scene, and his client was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries.
A native of the canton of Fribourg, Loretan was the third person ever to climb all 14 eight-thousanders, and only the second, after Reinhold Messner, to do so without using supplementary oxygen. Among his most famous climbs was his speedy 40-hour push up Mount Everest with Jean Troillet in 1986. In recent years, Loretan had focused on guiding and climbing smaller peaks in the Alps of his home country.
"I now want to share this passion [for climbing] with others, and it's because of this that being a mountain guide is a good profession, because you can help someone who dreams about climbing mountains," Loretan said in an interview at last year's Trento Film Festival. "This is something very beautiful."
Loretan's climbing career was nearly derailed in 2003 when he was convicted of manslaughter in the shaking death of his infant son. Loretan said he had briefly shaken the 7 month old to stop him from crying, then put him to bed when he quieted down. He was later given a four-month suspended sentence.