“I think as a climber I can achieve no more,” Steck told the Schweizer Illustrierten magazine of his achievement last week, which came after he was forced to call off a Mount Everest expedition earlier this year when a group of Sherpas attacked him and two colleagues.
The native of the canton of Bern climbed the forbidding 2,500-metre wall to the top of Annapurna, the tenth highest mountain in the world, alone on a new route.
“For me it is all still a bit unreal, my performance at this level already making myself almost afraid,” he told Schweizer Illustrierten in an interview via satellite phone.
Probably no one else has managed such a difficult route solo on a mountain more than 8,000 metres high, he said.
Steck said strong winds added to the challenge.
At 7,000 metres, he dug a hole in the snow and waited for the winds to subside before climbing the next 500 metres in the dark with the aid of a headlamp, Schweizer Illustrierten said.
He arrived at the summit at 2am before descending by the same route, returning to the base of the wall after 28 hours.
Steck, 37, had twice attempted to climb Annapurna in 2007 and 2008 without success.
In the first attempt he was almost killed by a rockfall and his second bid was abandoned after a friend, Spanish climber Inaki Ochoa de Olza, died on the mountain.
Steck said he started the Annapurna expedition with an “open mind and good sense” in the wake of the Everest brawl that made international news.
A new film of that incident, called High Tension: Ueli Steck and the Clash on Everest, is stoking controversy.
Scenes of the brawling were caught on iPhones.
Steck declined to comment on the film to Schweizer Illustrierten but one of the climbers with him on the Everest expedition, Italian Simone Moro, is reportedly not happy with it.
“I do not like the manipulation of perspective,” Moro told Trax.de, a German outdoor sports website.
The fight broke out after the sherpas were reportedly unhappy about Steck and his colleagues allegedly climbing in an area where they had set up ropes.
Moro said the film only tells part of the story, leaving too many points out.
The film suggests the fight was sparked after Moro insulted one of the Sherpas by using bad language, but Moro maintains he issued the insult because the Sherpas “were trying to kill” Steck.
The 40-minute film, which premiered in the US last month, will be screened in Zurich at the Volkshaus starting on October 21st, and will be circulating later through cinemas in larger Swiss cities.