American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Everest, record day and snowboard Descent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Everest, record day and first snowboard descent. May 23 saw the record for the number of climbers reaching the summit in a single day completely smashed. Before last year the record stood at 40, these ascents taking place on the May 10, 1993. On May 23, 2001 47 people from the Nepalese side alone reached the top. When combined with the 42 gaining the summit from the north, this gives a total of 89. Amongst the summiteers from the north that day was the young Frenchman, Marco Siffredi.

The previous night Siffredi had celebrated his 22nd birthday at the 8300m Camp 4 and prior to that had ascended eight times to the North Col (7000m) and several times to Camp 2 (7500m) to aid his acclimatisation. On the 23rd he left Camp 4 at 2:00 a.m. and only four hours and 15 minutes later was sitting on the summit, waiting for his Sherpa, Lobsang Temba, to bring up his snowboard. At 8:00 a.m. he had abandoned his oxygen equipment and was making his first turns on the summit ridge, heading for the Great (Norton) Couloir, the most logical choice for a descent and the scene of previous attempts by skiers such as the great Davo Karnicar from Slovenia.

In the first difficult 150 meters (45 degrees with rocks) one of his bindings broke in the cold. Fortunately, with the help of Lobsang, who was carrying a pair of pliers, he was able to repair it and continue. At 8300m he reached the rock barrier, which he anticipated might require a rappel. However, with so much snow on the mountain after the earlier bad weather, he was able to continue surfing unaided. He descended the couloir (ca 40 degrees) to the séracs near the base, then cut right to reach the North Col. After a rest he surfed the last 600 meters to advanced base on the Rongbuk in a total time of a little over two-and-a-half hours. This was not only the first complete snowboard descent of Everest, but the first complete descent of the Tibetan side of the mountain by either ski or surf.

Mountain INFO, High Mountain Sports

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.