Martijn Seuren dies in the Alps
Martijn Seuren

Martijn Seuren, a skilled 32-year-old alpinist from the Netherlands, tragically passed away on the morning of Wednesday, July 22, after a fall from a ridge on the Mont Blanc massif situated on the border between France and Italy. He was climbing alongside Swiss mountaineer, Ueli Steck, who had set out to conquer all 82 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps within a span of 80 days. The ambitious mission took a sombre turn as Seuren plummeted roughly 300 meters (985ft) to his demise on the Italian side of the mountain. French search and rescue teams later recovered his body from a crevasse, while the exact circumstances leading to the accident remain a subject of investigation. It was while ascending the Aiguille de Rochefort in the Mont Blanc massif that Seuren, having the same goal as Steck albeit over a more extended timeline, met his unfortunate end at an altitude of 3,900 meters in the early hours of the morning.

Known as the “Swiss Machine”, Ueli Steck was famous for his quick and unroped ascents of challenging climbs like the north face of the Eiger, which he conquered in just a few hours. His current goal is to complete this feat in 80 days, travelling between alpine areas on a mountain bike. During a climb of the Rochefort Ridge traverse to Aiguille de Rochefort with fellow climber and speed-climbing alpinist Ueli Steck, as well as another climber, they aimed to summit Rochefortgrat and then move on to Pointe Walker atop the Grandes Jorasses. This final peak was a part of Steck’s quest to climb all 82 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps, a feat that would make him the first Dutch climber to achieve this milestone. Aside from aiming to climb all 82 summits in just 80 days this summer, Steck planned to cycle over 1,000 kilometres between peaks and gain more than 100,000 meters of elevation to reach his goal. His mission would involve over 600 miles of cycling and a substantial altitude gain. Steck mentioned on Facebook that they were doing it for the sheer enjoyment and passion for the mountains. Following the tragic death of his climbing partner, Steck expressed deep sorrow on his website, noting that the climber would have been the first Dutchman to conquer all 82 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps.

The details surrounding Seuren’s accident are shrouded in ambiguity, as Steck mentioned on Facebook that he didn’t have any intentions of elaborating further. “I want to offer my heartfelt condolences to Martjin’s family and friends,” Steck expressed. “In light of the family’s privacy, I will refrain from providing more details on this tragic incident, and I kindly request all of you to respect this decision.” Steck’s latest endeavour faced numerous challenges. Michi Wohlleben, his climbing companion with whom he embarked on the ambitious expedition to conquer multiple peaks in succession, had to withdraw early due to injuries sustained in a rough paraglider landing. Last year, Steck and Wohlleben successfully completed the first winter combination of all three north-face routes on Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Dolomites within a mere 16 hours. Renowned for his pioneering climbs, Steck made headlines in 2013 when he solo climbed a tough new route on the immense south face of Annapurna in the Himalayas in just 28 hours round trip from his base camp to the summit. Despite receiving prestigious accolades in the field of mountaineering, his career has also been marred by accidents and some disputes. During a prior attempt on Annapurna’s south face in 2007, Steck miraculously survived a fall after being struck unconscious by a falling rock. Moreover, in April 2013, Steck, along with fellow mountaineers Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith, found themselves in a highly publicized altercation with a group of sherpas on Everest who voiced concerns that the unroped climbers were posing a threat to them.

Seuren, a prominent Dutch mountaineer, was known for his extensive climbing experience in Switzerland, where he conquered all 48 4,000-meter peaks multiple times. He also tackled various challenging routes in the Alps, such as the Peuterey Integral on Mont Blanc, the perilous Ortler North Face with its 4,000-foot ice chute in Italy, and the Obergabelhorn South Face in Switzerland. Despite his impressive achievements, Seuren preferred to minimize risks and stick to moderately difficult routes. He mentioned on his website that the joy of climbing and appreciating the stunning mountain landscapes was his main priority, rather than seeking extreme challenges. Originally from Breda, the Netherlands, Seuren resided in Bern, Switzerland, working as the manager of Bachli Bergsport, a renowned mountain sports store. He also had the distinction of being the second Dutch climber accepted into the Swiss Mountain Guides training program, demonstrating his dedication to the craft. In a candid interview with the Dutch Climbing and Mountaineering Association’s (NKBV) magazine Hoogtelijn in March 2015, Seuren acknowledged the inherent risks of mountaineering and expressed his desire to continue pursuing his passion for climbing well into old age, even though he recognized the possibility of a tragic ending in the mountains.


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