The UIAA is saddened to hear about a number of recent tragic accidents in the mountains. The following news was provided by UIAA member associations:
On 22 May, the Royal Dutch Climbing and Mountaineering Club (NKBV) reported that three Dutch alpinists died while climbing the Grosshorn (3754m) in the Swiss Alps on 19 May.
On 24 May, the NKBV confirmed the identity of the victims:
- Line van der Berg (30) lived in Bern, Switzerland where she was close to the mountains and climbed frequently. She had completed numerous tough climbs in recent years. The Phantom Direct route on the Grandes Jorasses, with her fellow climber Fay Manners, was a first for a women’s team. To mark this feat, she made the movie My Phantom which premiered last year.
- Line was an athlete who competed on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. Her most recent appearance was at the 2023 UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup in Saas-Fee. Line was an extremely popular athlete noted for her many passions including work promoting women in climbing.
- Mats Wentholt, who completed several difficult and long climbs with Line, with whom he was in the Expedition Academy, would have turned 32 on 21 May. He was a strong climber who was rarely in the spotlight. For example, he did not like social media, but those in the know were well aware of his climbing abilities.
- Over the years, 40-year-old Jeroen van Ommen built up an impressive climbing resume, but had never been on an expedition. The idea for an expedition was born with Line, Mats and Bas Visscher, Expedition Academy coach and instructor at the NKBV. They had chosen a beautiful mountain of 6500 meters in Pakistan that they wanted to go to in September. In preparation, the three made a training trip to the Grosshorn – they climbed to the top, but were caught by an avalanche on the descent.
NKBV President Peter Valkenburg said: “This is a great loss for our association. Not only were they good and experienced alpinists, but above all involved volunteers and nice people. We will miss them.”
The NKBV has set up the following condolence register for anyone wishing to make a tribute.
The Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV) announced the death of its former Secretary General Robert Renzler, who died in an accident in the mountains on 20 May. As the OeAV wrote: “His sudden and unexpected death shocks us deeply and fills us with deep sadness. Robert Renzler lost his life in an activity that for him was not just a passion but the essence of life itself. With Robert Renzler, the Alpine Club family loses an extraordinary personality whose commitment left a deep and lasting impression on the Club.”
Robert was a mountain and ski guide, an all-round alpinist who completed over 1,000 climbing tours on the great north faces of the Alps, in the Dolomites and in Yosemite and led successful expeditions to Gasherbrum II and Masherbrum, among others. His outstanding skills and passion for mountaineering were inspiring. He enjoyed a close relationship with the UIAA and served as Mountaineering Commission President in the early 2000s. Robert was passionate about ethics in mountaineering and during his time with the UIAA spearheaded the publication of the seminal To Bolt or not to Bolt paper.
The Polish Mountaineering Association (PZA) announced the death of renowned mountaineer Kacper Tekieli on 17 May. The 38-year-old died following an avalanche on Jungrau, Switzerland. A decorated mountaineer, he received numerous Piolets d’Or nominations.
The PZA wrote: “It is with great regret and sadness that we received the news of the death of our colleague in an avalanche in the Jungfrau massif. Kacper Tekieli was a great alpinist, an outstanding representative of the young generation of Polish climbers. He was a role model when it came to commitment, determination and a sporting approach to mountaineering. He carried out his projects with great passion. Despite his young age, he had many successes in the mountains around the world, from the Tatras to the Himalayas.”
The PZA confirmed that Tekieli was undertaking his latest project, the fastest ascent of all four-thousanders in the Alps.
The UIAA sends its deepest condolences to the friends and families of the victims and to its three member associations.