Along with a Sherpa, Steck found a window to achieve his dream on May 18. If he had waited a day longer, he would have had to adjust his pace to the crowds, since May 19 could go down in history as one of the busiest days the world’s highest mountain has ever seen. That was when commercial expeditions with hundreds of paying clients set out for the final push to the top.
At the outset of Steck’s expedition, the “Swiss Machine” was under a lot of pressure to attempt a new way to the summit or a more difficult path than the standard South Col route. Yet Steck says reaching the top of the world without oxygen was probably one of the physically most demanding things he had ever done in his life.
swissinfo.ch caught up with Steck in Kathmandu after his return from the climb. With his rosy cheeks, he looked rather like someone who had just come back from a beach holiday, and not as weather-beaten and emaciated as many other Everest contenders.