It looks like there is another “sky skiing” expedition we should start keeping our eyes on. This one involves Italians Edmond Joyeusaz, Gianluca Marra and Francesco Civra Dano (all mountain guides in Courmayeur) and a descent of the Hornbein Couloir on Mount Everest…which would be insane and in my opinion, one for raddest (and challenging?) ski descents for the books. The group of Italians plan to climb the Hornbein Couloir “alpine style”, ski it and then go back to clean up all the fixed ropes left on the route (from the “route up”…whatever that means) and returning them to basecamp for pick-up. The alpine-style attempt is imperative for this route since the majority of the technical terrain in the Hornbein lies above the “death zone”, which is considered to be anything above 7,500-8000m or about 24,000′.
Gianluca Marra, Edmond Joyeusaz and Francesco Civra Dano.
I think the last attempt to descend the Hornbein Couloir on Mount Everest was in 2002(?), when snowboarder Marco Siffredi, from Chamonix, disappeared while snowboarding the couloir after successfully reaching the summit on September 8th. His body was never found and how he died (or disappeared?) is unknown. Here is a link that tells that story and also includes a video with some footage of Marco riding the Gervasutti and his historic first continuous snowboard descent of Mount Everest via the Norton Couloir. Trust me, it’s worth the click.
The north side of Mount Everest.
Currently, the Italians are on their way to basecamp and the expedition is scheduled to last through the end of October. If you understand Italian, you can follow their attempt here. It took Marco 12.5 hours to reach the summit via the Hornbein during his attempt, so it’s a pretty big effort to ski the steepest line on Everest after a big climb like that. I wish these guys the best of luck and it seems like just having snow in the couloir to ski may be the biggest crux of the whole trip, as the upper flanks of the peak obviously get pummeled regularly by some pretty ferocious winds. Timing will be everything.
The following is a video of Marra and Civra making a first descent of a rad line on the Mount Blanc massif last winter. Looks like a pretty steep line, but those double pole plants…GASP!