Polish Alpinist Kacper Tekieli Dies on Jungfrau

Kacper Tekieli died May 17 while climbing Switzerland’s 4,158m Jungfrau. Polish outlet wspinanie reported that an avalanche swept the 38-year-old athlete off the mountain, as he attempted to descend it on a snowboard.

Tekieli had received Piolet d’Or nominations for his mountaineering. His tragic death interrupted his ongoing effort to climb all 82 of the “four thousanders” in the Alps.

Tekieli didn’t make it down Jungfrau, but according to multiple sources, he did succeed in summiting it. The day before the accident, Tekieli shared data to Strava that placed him at the Konkordia Hut, 2,850m up the mountain. After he left the next morning, he tagged the peak at 10:12 am.


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A post shared by Kacper Tekieli (@kacpertekieli)

Avalanche risk considerable

Switzerland’s WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF had broadcasted the danger Tekieli was facing. The publicly funded group had ranked the avalanche risk considerable on the days that Tekieli was on the peak, according to Snowbrains. High winds created big drifts created by recent snowfalls, which made steep terrain especially dicey.

Police in the nearby canton of Bern received a missing persons report around 4:30 pm, Snowbrains reported, which specified that Tekieli was alone. An interagency search for him ensued but didn’t at first succeed. It continued into May 18, when Kacper’s body was located below the Rottal-Couloirs, Snowbrains said.

Lone action characterized Tekieli’s career in the mountains.

His biggest headline was a double traverse of the Matterhorn in a single push, which saw him climb and descend all four of the mountain’s major ridges. That came in 2021, the same year he free-soloed the Lauper Route on the Eiger “in a fast time,” according to Gripped.

A guide with the Polish Mountaineering Association, Tekieli was also decorated. On July 5, 2019, he and Lukasz Mirowski clocked a record time of 15 hours, 52 minutes on the Expander. This is a famed link-up of multiple hard routes in the Tatra Mountains of Eastern Europe.

Tekieli leaves behind his wife, six-time Olympic medal-winning cross-country skier Justyna Kowalczyk-Tekieli, and the couple’s young son, Hugo.

“Smiling, attentive, emanating peace and positive energy, a titan of training. He accepted the risk — he didn’t like saying ‘be careful,’” wspinanie wrote of Tekieli in a tribute.

The outlet added he was “fascinated by the great figures of mountaineering,” like Ueli Steck, whom he knew.


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A post shared by Kacper Tekieli (@kacpertekieli)

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.