A life cut short
6th August 2010 | James Cove, PlanetSKI
It is with great sadness that we report the death of the extreme skier, Fredrik Ericsson. Our content editor had skied with him in Chamonix and we have followed his expeditions closely on PlanetSKI. We look back over his life.
Climbing into the cable car in Argentiere as thick flakes of snow came gently out of the sky overhead and fell softly to the ground I knew I was in for a day to remember.
Chamonix on a powder day is always a treat, but to be in the company of one of the best ski mountaineers and freeride skiers in the world was something else.
However, it didn’t really feel like it.
Fredrik just looked like anyone else as we chatted idly in the queue. He nodded to a few friends and no-one seemed to take much notice of him.
He was quiet, modest and utterly unassuming.
We spoke of his expeditions, his plans and what he had achieved. His love of the mountains and the beauty of nature.
Once up the hill we hit the powder and he showed me some of his favourite little spots. It was even better than expected.
Fredrik was born on 14th March 1975 and grew up in Umeâ in the north of Sweden.
He fell in love with the mountains and trained and qualified as a ski instructor.
He travelled to New Zealand and Canada to live his passions before arriving in Chamonix in 2000.
Like many before, and since, the place captivated him and he made it his home.
From there he climbed and skied many of the peaks in The Chamonix Valley and surrounding area.
First descents and big mountain skiing was his passion.
In the summer of 2003 he climbed the 7,495m Peak Somoni in Tajikistan and descended the Borodkin route on skis.
This was just the start and made him want more.
The following year he became the first Swede to ski descend an 8,000-meter peak when he skied down Shisha Pangma, 8012m, in Tibet.
In 2005 he went to Svalbard, a group of islands in The Arctic Sea and managed several first ski descents.
Later that year went to the Karakorams in Pakistan and though he didn’t reach all the way to the summit of Laila Peak at 6,069m, but from 5,940 meters Fredrik and his climbing partner made the first ever ski descent of the spectacular Laila Peak.
That wasn’t enough, after Laila they continued up the Baltoro valley and ski descended the 8,035m Gasherbrum 2; Fredrik’s second 8,000m peak.
In 2007 Fredrik returned to the Himalayas to ski his third 8,000m mountain, Dhaulagiri, at 8,167m.
Bad conditions forced him to turn around at 8,000 meters from where he made a 3,000 vertical meters ski descent.
In 2008 he made an expedition to Iceland and later that year he tried to make the first ski descent of Kangchenjunga 8,586m in the Himalayas.
It was here that plans solidified to try to ski the 3 highest mountain in the world; Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga.
In 2009 he began the attempt but tragedy struck when his Italian climbing partner, Michele Fait, fell and died.
The photos below are taken by Tommy Heinrich from this year’s ill-fated trip and show Fredrik doing what he liked best ski-mountaineering.
“For me it is all about the skiing. Sure I love climbing but not as much as I love skiing; it is the essence of life itself,” he said to me on that day skiing the powder in Chamonix.
May you rest in peace.
For details of the accident itself, see this updated PlanetSKI news story.
For an interview James Cove did with Fredrik about his attempt to ski down the 3 highest mountains in the world and why he wanted to do it see the video interview below.
And here he is on snow…..
For the Spirit of the Mountains