'Swiss Machine' climber Ueli Steck dies in fall near Mount Everest

One of the world's most famous climbers has been killed after falling from a peak near Mount Everest.

Ueli Steck, 40, "slipped and fell 1,000 metres" to the foot of Mount Nuptse as he trained for an attempt to climb the world's highest mountain, Nepalese officials said.

His body was recovered and flown by helicopter to Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

In a statement, the 40-year-old's family said they were "infinitely sad" and asked the media to "refrain from speculating about his death out of respect and consideration for Ueli".

Steck, known as the "Swiss Machine" because of his speed climbing, won several awards for his mountaineering feats and was considered one of the best climbers of his generation.

In 2013, he made headlines across the globe after being forced off Everest after a row with Sherpa guides over fixing ropes.

Later in the year, he achieved the first solo climb of the Annapurna south face in Nepal after almost losing his life in a fall there in 2007.

The accomplishment earned him a Piolet d'Or award, considered to be the Oscar of mountaineering.

Two years later, he climbed all 82 peaks in the Alps higher than 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) in 62 days, travelling between the mountains by foot, bike and paraglider only.

At the time of his death, Steck had been acclimatising for a bid to climb Everest through the less-climbed West Ridge route.

He also planned to scale nearby Mount Lhotse, the world's fourth highest peak at 8,516 metres (27,940 feet).

Ahead of the expedition, Steck told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that "failure for me would be to die and not come home".

He said: "When I'm on Everest I can stop at any point. The risk is therefore quite small.

"For me it's primarily a physical project. Either I get through, or I don't have the strength for the whole traversal."

Speaking to Sky News, adventurer Neil Laughton described Steck as "an extraordinary athlete".

He said: "Most of us climb Himalayan and large mountains around the world at a plod, Ueli Steck ran up mountains.

"He was extremely talented, skilled and a fantastic endurance athlete."