Have you been mountain climbing and why

She is driven - but not at any price. Time and again, the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner approached the K2 with respect and without oxygen. The ascent failed again and again. The latest expedition of the extreme mountaineer ended dramatically at 8,611 meters above sea level: Her Swedish comrade Fredrik Ericsson fell more than 1,000 meters to her death before her eyes. The extreme athlete planned to ski down from the three highest mountains in the world.

Kaltenbrunner is now with two companions who had climbed towards her, unharmed on the way back to base camp, says her spokeswoman Kathrin Furtner.

Fredrik, his friend Trey and Kaltenbrunner only met at the foot of the mountain and decided to climb up together. Kaltenbrunner's actual mountain partner and husband - the German extreme mountaineer Ralf Dujmovits - decided against it because of the weather conditions.

After radio conversations with his wife, Dujmovits sent a first report about the accident on the unpredictable mountain: On Friday night (local time), a strong wind blew around the tents in Camp IV, and visibility was poor. Because of the unusually warm temperatures, rocks kept coming loose. Nevertheless, Kaltenbrunner and the two men set off for the summit in the hope of improving the weather. The other six climbers stayed in their tents. Hours later, Trey also turned back. Kaltenbrunner and Ericsson reported from the notorious bottleneck - the last dangerous bottleneck on the route to the top.

At around 8 a.m., according to her husband, the horrified radio call came from Kaltenbrunner: Ericsson had rushed past her. The Swede probably slipped on the neck of the bottle while climbing ahead without a rope in the deep snow and was no longer able to hold on. Kaltenbrunner only found one of his skis and started back when visibility was poor. According to Dujmovits, the Russian mountaineer Yura Ermachek later discovered the body at an altitude of around 7,500 meters in extremely impassable and dangerous terrain.

Ericsson's father decided that afternoon not to put rescuers in danger and "to leave Fredrik at this point with a view of his favorite mountains, the Chogolisa and Laila Peak". Ericsson was probably the most powerful mountaineer in the camp and was extremely popular with everyone, said Dujmovits: "Dear Fredrik, you were a fine person and we will all have great memories."

The K2, the towering giant in the Karakoram Mountains, is the only eight-thousander that Kaltenbrunner has not yet conquered. She has already tried six times, and nature has prevented it six times. Although the K2 on the Pakistani-Chinese border is only the second highest mountain in the world after Mount Everest, it is considered the most difficult eight-thousander among alpinists. Long, steep walls and extreme weather and wind conditions let extreme athletes die there again and again.

As one of the best female mountaineers in the world, Kaltenbrunner has set herself the goal of conquering all eight-thousanders without an oxygen bottle. This distinguishes them from Edurne Pasaban from Spain and Oh Eun Sun South Korea. Both women were already on the peaks of the 14 highest mountains on earth, but they used ventilators.

The extreme athlete doesn't see her job as a competition anyway: "If I was only interested in the record, I would have taken the normal routes everywhere. I would like to have stood on each of the 14 eight-thousand-meter peaks, but as a woman I don't care." she said once.

Health also comes first. In May 2007 an avalanche spilled during the ascent of the Dhaulagiri Kaltenbrunners team. Two Spanish mountaineers die, Kaltenbrunner barely survived thanks to an air bubble and dug himself out of the masses of snow. Two months later she conquered her tenth eight-thousander, Broad Peak.

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