Can You Ski Down Mount Everest?

Can You Ski Down Mount Everest

Being the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest attracts tourists from all over the globe. 

The ultimate challenge of climbing and descending this mountain lures determined skiers, snowboarders, and mountain climbers from every country who want to take their experience to the next level.

And while the terrain and the forces of nature in this mountain seem extreme and hazardous, many adventurers yearn to explore the famous mountain. 

If you are a skiing enthusiast wondering whether you can ski down Mount Everest, the answer is yes. 

Sure, there are various dangers you might face when exploring Mount Everest, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t ski the mountain down.

The first person to ride down Mount Everest on skis from the summit was Davo Karnicar, a Slovenian adventurer who explored the mountain in October 2000. 

He and his team spent a month ascending to the top of the mountain, then skied down in less than five hours. 

Let’s have a look at some of the challenges skiers are likely to experience when skiing down Mount Everest and what it would take to ski such a mountain.

Challenges You Might Experience When Skiing Everest

Challenges You Might Experience When Skiing Everest

#1. Altitude Sickness

Skiers and climbers are usually prone to acute mountain sickness when they climb above 8,200 feet. The reason is that the oxygen levels at this height are pretty low since the air is less dense.

With less oxygen content in the atmosphere, your body will not absorb enough oxygen to sustain you on the mountain.

Lack of enough oxygen interferes with your brain biochemistry and leads to various symptoms, including dizziness, headache, tiredness, and sometimes shortness of breath.

If you start experiencing such symptoms when climbing the mountain, it’s important to stop a bit to rest and drink enough water.

#2. Extreme and Unpredictable Weather

As Mount Everest is a tall mountain, the weather can be extreme while up there. There are strong southern monsoon winds and extreme cold since temperatures can go below -50 °C.

The mountain usually receives plenty of rain and snow, and the weather conditions can suddenly change while you are out there.

So, you need to dress appropriately to avoid getting sick from the incredibly chilly and dry winds. 

#3. Very Steep Ski Descent

Very Steep Ski Descent

Mount Everest has very steep slopes, which are great for the adrenaline rush but can be a bit scary for some skiers, especially if they lack experience.

If you want to ski down this mountain, you must be ready to ride at extremely high speeds due to the steep terrain while carrying your gear.

#4. Avalanches

Another major problem that explorers face when skiing Mount Everest is the risk of avalanches that happen when loose snow layers separate.

Mount Everest experiences heavy snowfall, and not all of the ice is tightly packed to guarantee a safe and solid surface for skiers.

While they are beautiful to watch from afar, avalanches are deadly due to their high intensity, especially on steep mountains like Mount Everest.

Any skier looking to ski down this mountain should be vigilant to avoid being swept by avalanches. They should watch out for cracks and steer clear of areas with wind-blown snow.

Studying the terrain will also help you realize the weak spots and avoid them when riding down the mountain. You can also take an avalanche course before heading to the high peak.

#5. Icefalls of the South Col Route

One aspect that makes Mount Everest a risky mountain to explore is the Kumbu Icefall. Located at the top of Kumbu Glacier, this icefall is one of the most dangerous places when using the South Col route to go to the summit.

The Kumbu icefall is about 1.6 miles long, which means you’ll have 2,000 feet to climb. And while there are longer glaciers in Europe, the Kumbu glacier is the highest with the most challenging icefalls.

You should be careful when exploring this mountain as huge ice rocks can break away from the mountain ridge and result in injuries.

#6. Crevasses

Crevasses are the spaces that form when vast sections of glaciers and ice separate. The crevasses in Mount Everest can be hazardous since a layer of fresh snow covers the surface. 

So, you need to be careful and pay attention to any instructions and warnings given. Otherwise, you may end up falling into gigantic hidden crevasses.

Explorers Who Skied Down Everest from the Summit

Explorers Who Skied Down Everest from the Summit

Skiing down Mount Everest from the summit is possible even without removing your skis, but there are several significant challenges to overcome for a successful journey.

So, you might wonder, has anyone ever skied down Mount Everest? Well, let’s see what it took for the various adventurers to ski Mt Everest.

Yuichiro Miura

Just like his father, Keizo Miura, Yuichiro Miura loved exploring the mountains. Yuichiro Miura embarked on a Mount Everest skiing challenge in 1970.

He used the South Col route to climb the highest mountain on earth with the aim of skiing down from the Everest summit.

When he started his descent, all he saw ahead was an endless sheet of ice. So, he tried to use a parachute for speed control, but it proved almost useless with the strong swirling winds on the mountain.

He didn’t give up on his attempt, though. Yuichiro Miura struggled to maintain balance and control his extreme skiing speed down the mountain.

However, he slipped on the snow and fell into a huge crevasse. But he was lucky enough to survive a total vertical drop of about 4,200 feet in less than three minutes.

Since the Japanese alpinist had filmed his whole adventure, the expedition became an Oscar-winning documentary known as ‘The Man Who Skied Down Everest’ produced by Canadian filmmaker F.R Crawley.

Marco Siffredi

Snowboarders are also not left out when it comes to Mt Everest exploration. Marco Siffredi, a Frenchman Snowboarder, had gained experience making extreme descents on his snowboard from the highest peaks.

He was looking to take on an expedition that would challenge his riding ability on a snowboard. So, he made his first attempt to climb and ride down Mt Everest in May 2001.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned when he reached the Everest summit, as he discovered that the steep Hornbein Couloir lacked adequate snow coverage.

So, he had to opt for another ski descent, so he chose the Norton Couloir, which took him down to the Everest base camp.

While Norton Couloir still took him to Everest base camp, Siffredi didn’t feel happy about his adventure.

So, he resolved to have another expedition in September 2002 with his Sherpa companion. After a strenuous ascent to the summit that took 12 hours, Siffredi parted ways with his Sherpa and set foot on the slope using his coveted Hornbein Couloir. 

However, what happened in his descending journey remains a mystery since he disappeared and his body was never found.

Davo Karnicar

Davo Karnicar undertook a challenge that involved climbing Everest to the summit and riding down on skis. 

He attached a webcam to his helmet to record his expedition and became the first skier to ski down MT Everest from the highest peak without removing skis.

Karnicar’s love for skiing was a seed sown by his Slovenian parents, as they both loved skiing and climbing. 

His parents’ skiing and mountain climbing habits inspired him to a great extent, and he would wake up early in the morning to hit the slopes before going to school.

Compared to other skiers of his level, Karnicar had gone the extra mile since he had made almost 1700 ski descents and ascents.

He and his team set off to climb Mt Everest using the southeast face route for the second time after their previous aborted attempt. The first attempt failed when the enthusiastic skier lost his two fingers to frostbite.

Determined to overcome all the challenges and succeed in his second adventure to summit Everest, Karnicar climbed the last few hundred feet at night as they expected extreme cold the following afternoon.

Once he reached the summit, he started the descent the following morning after resting for a few hours. His ski descent was quite challenging since he had to battle strong dry winds, low oxygen content, crevasses, and avalanches.

It took him four hours and 40 minutes to complete the high-altitude skiing descent. His adventure made him feel like he was light-years from the earth due to extreme fatigue.



Q: How Long Does It Take to Ski Down Mount Everest?

A: Skiing down Mt Everest can take about five hours, depending on your speed and the challenges you encounter. However, climbing the mountain to the summit can take a month or more. 

Q: Has Anyone Ever Tried to Ski Down Mount Everest?

A: Yes, various adventurers have tried to ski down Mt Everest. The first person to ski down Everest and complete the entire descent without removing skis was Davo Karnicar. 

But there are other skiers who have tried skiing on this mountain, like Yuichiro Miura, who was the first man to attempt to ski Everest from the summit. He used a parachute to control speed when skiing down Everest in 1970. 

Today, over 600 climbers and skiers from different parts of the world have climbed Everest using various routes or both North and South Face.

Q: Does Mount Everest Have a Ski Resort?

A: There are two base camps in Mt Everest for après located at the base of the North and South sides of the mountain.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Skiing down the tallest mountain in the world may seem impossible, but it’s not. Many people have climbed the mountain, and some of them managed to descend on their skis within a few hours.

If you want to take on the challenge and ski down Mt Everest, the best time to explore the mountain is from May to June. The weather is usually bearable during these months as it’s warmer and less windy.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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