Skiing Everest

Brothers, Mike & Steve Marolt, photo courtesy of Outside Magazine.

Who has the drive to lug professional video equipment and skis — without the aid of supplemental oxygen, Sherpas or altitude drugs — up the icy, barren north ridge of Mount Everest?

Who has the desire to then point his skis downhill — from an elevation of 25,098 feet — so he can film the ensuing descents of his twin brother and cousin?

In his forties, with two kids, a mortgage and a full-time day job as an accountant, Mike Marolt certainly doesn't fit the mold of a pioneering producer of ski films. Nor does he have any aspirations of being the next Warren Miller.

"Skiing on the roof of the world doesn't really look sexy on camera," Marolt says. "Literally, it's like trying to ski down the icy roof of a barn, with a fatal fall of some 4,000 feet if you make one mistake."

"It's also hard to make it look exciting because it's the ultimate in conservative skiing," Marolt says. "No. 1, because there's no oxygen and you can't move your feet very fast. And No. 2, you're just so tired when you're up there. It's unlike any other skiing that there is."

Which, Marolt adds, is why it's so fascinating to do. Capturing the energy and precision that goes into such an endeavor is what motivates him as a filmmaker.

It's what is pushing him to return to the Himalayas this April for a planned ski descent of 26,960-foot Cho Oyu in China and another attempt at skiing down Everest.

It took Mike, his brother, and team members Oates, Dunnett and Gile three years of saving, training, and planning before arriving at Everest to film what would become "Skiing the High Himalaya."

Skiing on the world's tallest mountain wasn't a new idea, nor was the thrust of filming such an adventure. In 1970, Japanese adventurer Yuichiro Miura became the first man to ski on Mount Everest, logging a descent from above 26,000 feet on the South Col that was documented for the film "The Man Who Skied Down Everest."

Two other men have also skied off Everest's summit: Italian Hans Kammerlander skied off the icy north side in the spring of 1996, while Slovenian Davo Karnicar* skied off the south side in the fall of 2000.

Of the eight people who had skied on Everest prior to the Marolt's expedition, five used oxygen, six had the help of Sherpa porters.

Mike Marolt, his twin brother, plus team members Oates, Dunnett and Gile didn't ski from Everest's pinnacle, but their feat of ascending to 25,098 feet without oxygen or sherpa assistance was a mountaineering accomplishment in its own right.

The descent from that altitude — in a whiteout no less — also made the Marolts the first Americans to have skied from above 25,000 feet twice.

* LOWA is proud to sponsor these guys, providing ski boots and trekking boots, for this historic adventure.


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