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Ueli Steck Behind the Scenes at Annapurna and Personal Thoughts

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Our incredible team for Annapurna. Everyone, a pure joy to be with.

To date, we have had over 8ooo Google searches land on our site as a result of people searching variations of “How does/what does Ueli Steck… insert train, eat, think”. Apparently folks are interested in these things.

Now that we’re back home in Switzerland and our Stock Site is loaded with photos of Ueli at Annapurna, I had some time to go through our personal photos from the trip and re-live what was one of the best experiences of our lives. Then came a photo request from the Swiss Alpine Club for their beautiful magazine Die Alpin. The editor wanted something more personal, not just Ueli doing his usual bad assery. We all know Ueli as the guy in the Swiss Machine hammering up the Eiger, so maybe it’s time to see what goes on behind the scenes, with friends, yet still in his world while focused on big objectives. And also, to answer those Google searches. I asked Ueli to respond here as well. The questions are very basic, yet truly get right to the heart of what he does.

How does Ueli Steck Train?

Ueli combines modern training principles with 100% dedication and focus. He has a great coach who keeps him on a strict program that he lets nothing interfere with. Ueli claims to not be a natural athlete, he’s just a hard working guy. No magic folks, he loves what he does, he’s passionate about climbing and he has the ability to keep razor sharp focus on what he wants.

Ueli Talks Training

Ueli Steck : “This year it was manly endurance, I was running a lot, mostly uphill, but I also made some nice long runs in the Alps traversing beautiful ridges or just leaving from home to go on long runs. 
It was mostly 16-20 hours running a week with lots of vertical meters. Then I was also back on my combined training. Like starting at Grindelwald Grund with a run up to the Guggihut, there I’d change from running shoes to mountaineering boots and climb the Mönch. So I also had  the technical part. In addition, I trained a lot of down climbing this summer. I felt this is very important for safety on Annapurna as I thought about Lafaille’s story.”
Ueli Steck training

Ueli trail running from Annapurna Basecamp

What does Ueli Steck Eat?

Likely the most commonly asked question of professional athletes is centered around nutrition. I’ve spent a great deal of time around these people, and for the most part I can tell you, they eat real food. Nothing too special, just real food. “Real” being unprocessed, close to the source, and naturally occurring.

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

Extreme exception to the “Naturally Occurring” food rule… Ueli traditionally eats an American Hostess cupcake before serious attempts on 8000 meter peaks.

Ueli is no different, he doesn’t adhere to any special diet, he’s not Paleo, or Atkins, or into any other fads. He’s just a good Swiss and consumes sizable quantities of bread and cheese. But, while climbing or in performance mode, he does use science as it is both efficient and practical. He’s sponsored by PowerBar and uses their full range of product.

Ueli Talks Food & Nutrition

Ueli Steck : “I take care about food for sure. I try to eat as natural as possible. For sure I love fresh salad, but I make sure after climbing to get enough protein. And after running I fill up with carbohydrates. Bars and gels are just during training, after is real food.”

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

The very food that went up Annapurna for his solo ascent. He ate everything pictured in 28 hours and said it was exactly the right amount.

What does Ueli Steck Think?

Over the past few years we’ve become great friends with Ueli, we do a lot together, mostly for fun, a little for work. As a friend, I was admittedly hugely stressed out to see what he committed himself to at Annapurna. As we sat in Advance Basecamp watching him, Janine occupied her time by organizing nature, cobbling camp, re-routing and cleaning the water source, and then peeling about 40 apples for a fresh dessert. Meanwhile, I paced and tried not to think of the “what ifs”. Later, when Ueli was down, he spoke of never, ever, being able to imagine any “what ifs” when soloing. He just climbs, focused on the route ahead, staying in control, and being always sure he can climb down what he climbs up. He does these things for his life, not just to stay alive climbing, but in how he lives each day. Maybe this is what we can relate to, Ueli’s climbing as a metaphor for our own lives. I saw him maintain momentum when the weather was terrible, adapt to variables that came as a surprise, and as a leader, work with people in a purely positive manner. Ueli has developed these traits, combined them with performance athletic training and applied it all to arguably the most serious game there is. The results speak for themselves, this is the magic of Ueli Steck.

Ueli on Risk and Reward

Ueli Steck : “I think a lot about risk and life, and am very realistic about living. I know nothing changes when you climb something, the world is still the same. We all will die sooner or later. If you climb something, this is just for your own experience and for nothing else. Nobody is ever able to take away this experience. Never, ever. But, you also take all the risk and consequences. Which means if you fall, it’s only you, you get hurt or you die. When you die the world just moves on without you! That’s very simple. So make sure you get the experience you want to get.”

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Some personal images to share. Great memories for all of us, and I hope a personal feel for what goes on behind the scenes.

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Ueli celebrating his birthday in basecamp

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

Luckily, there was more than one celebration, cake 2 was for a successful summit

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

Bouldering at 4200 meters, the day after he summited Annapurna…

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

How does Ueli Steck shave? With purple water of course.

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

What does Ueli Steck read in the tent? Donald Duck.

Ueli Steck Annapurna 2013

Nepal’s Apple Genius Bar

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Ueli and I descended together from the glacier, only to run into Janine making her way up to greet us. Lots of happy hugs.

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Ueli, Janine and I back in Advance Basecamp immediately after Ueli descended from Annapurna

 

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Comments 3

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