Obituary: Frederik Ericsson

Popular and ambitious extreme skier, mountaineer and mountain biker

• Frederik Ericsson, extreme skier and mountaineer.

• Born: 14 March, 1975, in Sundsvall, Sweden.

• Died: 6 August, 2010, on K2, the Himalayas, aged 35.

Fredrik Ericsson, one of the world's leading extreme skiers, has joined the list of people who died attempting to ski the most dangerous mountain on earth.

Ericsson grew up in the town of Ume, in the northern reaches of the Sweden, a region that enjoys, or endures, long winters and deep snow.

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At the age of 18 he discovered a passion for skiing. His love of the sport took him around the world, after an initial training period as a ski instructor at the resort of Oppdal in Norway.

From then he chased the winter seasons travelling between Queenstown, New Zealand and Fernie, Canada before he eventually landed in his spiritual home, the Mecca of the winter sports world, Chamonix, France.

Chamonix provided him with the perfect base for his three great loves: skiing, climbing and mountain biking, and where he began to hone his skills and test his abilities in more extreme situations. After a period his talents attracted the interest of sponsors and his career as a professional extreme skier began, and each adventure led to a new, bigger and more dangerous project.

He filled his winters with trips to ski resorts and remote mountain ranges with his photographer friends Mikael Pilstrand and Fredrik Schenholm, where they would carry out exhilarating photo shoots for Ericsson's sponsors and other media.

His first trip to the biggest mountain range in the world was in 2003 when he descended the 7,495-metre peak of Somoni, in the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan.

There are 14 peaks in the Himalayas more than 8,000 metres high, and Ericsson skied his first in 2004, when he descended from the central summit of Shisha Pangma. The following year he sent an e-mail to Norwegian Jrgen Aamot, which read: "I have found the most beautiful mountain and it looks skiable too. Let's go there."

They then travelled to Pakistan to attempt to ski the 6,069-metre Laila Peak in the Karakorams. The mountain is the perfect challenge to the extreme skier, with a hugely steep north-west face. It had only been climbed twice before and had never been skied.

The attempt was going well until the pair were 150 metres from the summit, when the climbing and skiing terrain changed from ideal to outright dangerous. Aamot wrote of the experience: "We agreed that it wasn't safe to continue and that skiing from the summit in these conditions would probably end up being the last turns of our lives. Nothing's worth a price that high."

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A trip to Pakistan isn't cheap, and for two driven men who have just had to bail out of one summit attempt the temptation to take on another was too good to resist. Their objective? The world's 13th highest mountain, Gasherbrum 2 (also known as K4), standing at 8,035 metres. In 2004 they were successful. Ericsson returned to the Himalayas in 2007 to tackle Dhaulagiri, the world seventh highest peak. Again he was hampered by bad weather and was forced to abandon his attempt 167 metres short of the summit.

Undeterred, he was back in the Himalayas in 2008, this time in Nepal on Kanchenjunga, the worlds third highest peak. Again conditions were too dangerous for a summit ski. The descent was treacherous, with avalanche-prone slopes.

This year Ericsson revealed he was on a two-year mission to ski the three highest mountains on Earth, Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga, in a challenge called "Ski the Big 3".

Tragedy struck when he was high on the slopes of K2 with his climbing partner Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. It was Ericsson's second attempt at the mountain, the last being in 2009 when his Italian partner, Michele Fait, was killed in a fall.

According to Kaltenbrunner: "Fredrik was fixing rope to the rock in the bottleneck above…when he lost purchase and was unable to arrest his fall. This happened some time between 7 and 8am. Later it was determined he fell about 1,000 metres (3,280ft] and did not survive."

The pair were the only team attempting a summit push that day and Kaltenbrunner abandoned her climb following Ericsson's fall. Had she been successful she would have become only the third woman to have climbed all 14 over-8,000-metre peaks, all without supplemental oxygen.

A well-liked climber with a friendly demeanour, Ericsson was one of the world's leading extreme mountain skiers and described by British climbing star Kenton Cool as a "sound lad".

Kaltenbrunner's website said: "Now, the only thing left for us to do is say goodbye to an amazing person. Fredrik Ericsson was not only one of the strongest climbers here at base camp, he was also one of the most popular climbers."

Fredrik Ericsson, known to his friends as Frippe, is survived by his parents.