Like many teenagers who idolize pop stars or football players and have pictures of them on their laptop wallpaper. So too do I, a man fast approaching mid-life crisis. But like teenagers, I also scoured the internet for amazing photos of my idols to display on my laptop. However, my idols are not stylish K Popstars or sexy football players juggling balls with their feet. My idols are climbers that risk their lives on climbing expeditions. I’m not exactly sure why I want their pictures on my laptop. Maybe is to remind me of all the amazing climbs that I a mere mortal can’t do. Or to inspire me that there is a 1 in a million chance I could be like them whenever I sit on my ass staring at my laptop.
Wallpaper of Legends
The climbers in my wallpaper collection are no slouch. You have to be a legend in order to be on my laptop display. My wallpaper list is made up of Ueli Steck, Dean Potter, David Lama, Dani Arnold, and Alex Honnold. Quite a list I must say. Unfortunately, 3 out of the 5 of them are no longer with us. They had lost their lives practising their craft. With the most recent death, being David Lama. Whom I had been a fan of since he retired from competition climbing in 2011 and went headlong into climbing expeditions in huge mountain ranges.
There are others like Alex
Many climbers I know are only aware of Alex Honnold and that is very unfortunate. Yes, Alex Honnold is an amazing rock climber and has also proven to be a great mountaineer for completing the traverse of the Fitz Roy massif in Patagonia. But there are other climbers that had accomplished more amazing feats. Climbers like Ueli Steck, David Lama, and Dani Arnold had completed climbs that are more dangerous and yet received less recognition by the general public. Hence I like to let the readers of our humble website know more about these amazing climbers.
First on the list is Ueli Steck. Whom I regard to be the best all-around climber of the 21st century. If you disagree… well you can go and…
Eiger North Face
Ueli Steck burst into the scene back in 2008 when he set the speed record on the North Face of the Eiger by reaching the summit in 2 hours 47 minutes. This is a climb that normally takes good climbers 3 days to complete.
Ueli Steck recaptures the Eiger speed record in 2015 by doing it in 2 hours 22 minutes after Dani Arnold broke his 2008 record.
Annapurna South Face
Annapurna, is one of the deadliest mountains in the world where 3 in 10 climbers die attempting to summit. The south face of Annapurna is the steepest and most difficult face amongst the 8000-meters peaks. Ueli Steck soloed the south face of Annapurna in 2013 and became the first man to do so. He took a mere 28 hours to go from basecamp to summit and back, setting a speed record in the process.
Death in 2017
Ueli Steck’s final project was to climb the Hornbein route to the summit of Everest, follow by traversing to the peak of Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain. This is a link-up that had never been done before.
It was on the 30th of April when Ueli Steck fell to his death while solo climbing to the nearby peak of Nuptse. He fell an estimated 1000 meters witnessed by several Sherpas and expedition members around the valley. The cause of the fall is unknown. His body was recovered and transported to Kathmandu where memorial services were held.
Awards and Accolades
2008 Eiger Award for his Alpinistic performances
2009 Piolet d’Or for his new route on Tengkampoche north face with Simon Anthamatten
2010 Karl Unterkircher Award for his climbing versatility
2014 Piolet d’Or for his solo ascent of Annapurna south face
2015 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year
Dani Arnold is an Austrian all-around climber. Similar to Ueli Steck, Dani had been setting speed records on some of the hardest peaks in the Alps. Although Dani Arnold had broken Ueli Steck’s speed record in the Alps. However, his achievements are pale in comparison to Ueli’s who had set speed records for a number of 8000-meters peaks in the Himalayas. Nonetheless, Dani Arnold is an amazing all-around climber.
Eiger North Face
In 2011, Dani Arnold breaks Ueli Steck’s 2008 Eiger North Face speed record by finishing the climb in 2 hours and 28 minutes nearly 20 minutes faster. However, Ueli Steck retakes the speed record in 2015 reaching the summit in 2 hours and 22 minutes.
One of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. In 2015, Dani Arnold sets a new speed record on the Matterhorn North Face with a time of 1 hour 46 minutes breaking Ueli Steck’s 2009 record by 10 minutes.
In 2018 Dani Arnold free solos the 1200-meters Grandes Jorasses in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Setting a new speed record previously held by Ueli Steck.
Speed records on Via Carlesso and Via Cassin
Dean Potter an icon of Yosemite. A true blue dirtbag of the Valley where he hones his craft. From free soloing to highlining to base jumping to wingsuit flying to FreeBase (free solo with a parachute), he does them all. Always pushing his craft to the limit and beyond. And who can forget Dean’s wingsuit flight with his dog Whisper.
Death in 2015
On the 16 of May 2015, Potter died after crashing while attempting a wingsuit flight in Yosemite Valley.
No introduction is necessary. Alex Honnold is by far the most recognized face in climbing. It is impossible not to have Alex Honnold’s picture as my desktop wallpaper. The pictures of Alex Honnold free soloing in Yosemite is beautiful (credit to Jimmy Chin). Of course, there are other climbers that free solo. But no one had free solo a vertical face as big as Alex’s climb in Yosemite’s Half Dome and El Capitan.
Alex Honnold’s last incredible climb was documented in the film “Free Solo”. Climbing without a role is high risk unless Alex Honnold decides to stop free soloing there is always a possibility that his next free solo can be his last.
2014, The Fitz Roy Traverse, Fitz Roy massif, Patagonia with Tommy Caldwell
2017, Freerider, Yosemite, California – First and only free solo on El Capitan
2018, The Nose, Yosemite, California – Speed record of 1:58:07 with Tommy Caldwell
Awards and Accolades
2010: Golden Piton award from Climbing magazine, for endurance climbing.
2015: Honnold together with Tommy Caldwell was awarded the Piolets d’Or, for the first full traverse of the Fitz Roy Range in Patagonia, Argentina.
2018: Robert and Miriam Underhill Award from American Alpine Club, for excellence in various fields of climbing.
2018: Special mention of Piolets d’Or for his outstanding contribution to climbing during 2017.
David Lama is a climber that stood out. Born to a Nepali father and an Austrian mother. He was a child prodigy winning a climbing world cup competition at a young age. At 15 David Lama was the youngest person to compete in the world cup. He was also the first climber to win both a lead and the bouldering world cup in his first season. In 2011 he retired from competition climbing at the age of 21 and devoted his time to mountaineering. His transition from a rock climber to mountaineering was seamless by climbing some of the world’s hardest alpine routes and establishing new first ascents.
Eternal Flame – Trango Tower
In 2012 David Lama and Ortner repeated the route Eternal Flame on Trango Tower in the Karakoram region of Pakistan.
2018 First ascent (solo) of Lunag Ri in Nepal
Lunag Ri is a climb that took David Lama 3 attempts across 4 years to complete. Attempts were made in 2015 and 2016 with Conrad Anker which ended in failure. David Lama finally summited Lunag Ri in 2018 on a solo attempt.
Death in 2019
On16 April 2019, David Lama, along with Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer were caught in an avalanche while climbing the M16 route on Howse Peak in the Waputik Range of the Canadian Rockies. The group was attempting a route on the east face of Howse Peak known as M16, one of the most difficult Canadian alpine routes. Their bodies were found on 21 April 2019.
According to what looks like a group summit selfie photo on Jess Roskelley’s mobile phone which was discovered along with the bodies. It is likely that David Lama and his companions had summited prior to being caught in the avalanche.
Risk is a part of climbing
Risk is an integral part of climbing. You cannot enjoy this sport without accepting the risks. It is depressing to see that some of my favourite climbers had lost their lives because of climbing. However, I always like to look on the bright side. If you got to go you might as well go while doing something you love.