Ericsson perishes on K2 attempt

Fredrik Ericsson, killed Friday on a summit attempt of K2. www.fredrikericsson.com

Swedish mountaineer and professional skier Fredrik "Frippe" Ericsson fell to his death while attempting to summit 28,253-foot K2, the world's second-tallest peak. He was 35.

The accident happened early Friday morning in Pakistan as Ericsson attempted to become the first man to ski from the summit to base camp.

Ericsson was climbing above Camp 4 (8,000 meters, the final push before the summit), near the crux of the climb called the Bottleneck, when he slipped and fell more than 1,000 feet.

David Schipper, a Moab, Utah, climber who attempted K2 in 2007, spoke via satellite phone with Ericsson's climbing partners, American Trey Cook and Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner.

"My understanding is that Frippe was preparing to fix the next route, he lost his purchase and could not arrest himself," Schipper said. "He fell approximately 1,000 meters. It isn't straight down. It's 60 or 70 degrees."

Schipper said they began their summit push at about 1:30 a.m. and expected to reach the summit in eight to 12 hours. At 5:30 a.m., Cook returned to Camp 4 after turning back at the base of the Bottleneck, leaving Kaltenbrunner and Ericsson to continue their ascent.

"My sentiment was the same as everyone else's," Schipper said. "Frippe always had a tremendously positive attitude and he brought with him a positive outlook wherever he went."

In 2004, Ericsson became the first Swede to ski from 8,000 meters when he summited Tibet's Shisha Pangma. With Ski The Big 3, he was planning to ski the world's highest three mountains. K2 would have been his first successful attempt.

Two hundred ninety-nine people have successfully summited K2, compared to the 4,000-plus Everest summiters. Seventy-eight have died during their K2 attempts.