K2: Fredrik Ericsson Falls to His Death
Chogolisa (Courtesy of David Schipper)
Early this morning I was woken by a call from Trey's girlfriend. 'Frippe was killed…'
The bottom of my world fell out. Facts and information are impossibly inaccurate at this altitude so I got started making my way through the grim channels to find out where the truth was. With the help of Field Touring Alpine and my friend and guide Fabrizio Zangrilli I was able to get most of the story straight.
Some of what he reported was first hand knowledge while at camp 4 and part was from his conversation with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner who was with Fredrik when he fell.
At about 1:30 AM Trey, Gerlinde and Fredrik left camp 4 at about 8000m to move to the summit. The weather was less than the good forecast but it was also supposed to improve during the upcoming day. Fabrizio and a few other climbers elected to remain in camp 4 to see what happened with the weather.
Several hours later, as the three climbers reached the base of the bottle neck, Trey decided to return to camp 4. He arrived back at about 5:30 AM in low visibility and high winds.
According to the conversation Fabrizio had with Gerlinde, Fredrik was fixing rope to the rock in the bottle neck above her when he lost purchase and was unable to arrest his fall. This happened some time between 7 and 8 AM. Later it was determined he fell about 1000m and did not survive.
Weather was said to become more challenging as time passed and Gerlinde's safe return to camp 4 was aided by climbers that had stayed at camp 4.
By evening of that same day the remaining climbers made their way back to camp 3 at 7000m. All the tents left at 3 were 'thoroughly ruined' by rock fall and ruck sacks were needed as shields from the constant rain of rocks. Gerlinde reportedly continued down to camp 2 at about 6400m. All will make their way to base camp tomorrow with the hopes the colder night temperatures will reduce rock fall. They will be safe when they are at basecamp.
It is almost impossible to get the facts straight in these situations as each version is a blend of facts and perspective. It is also difficult to understand the situation without being there. I give my most sincere condolences to Frippe's parents, family and friends. I have no words to express my sorrow. This information in an effort to help you understand the details – though they can only tell part of the story. Everyone I have had contact with, both on K2 and off, said he was liked by everyone at base camp, that he brought a positive atmosphere everywhere he went.
You will be missed, Fredrik by all of us fortunate enough to have known you. I will remember you with the memory of beautiful Chogolisa in the background.
Frippe's body is resting at about 7000m. His parents have requested it remain in the mountains he loved.
Retrieval would be exceptionally dangerous.
You can read more about Fredrik Ericsson on fredrikericsson.com.