Marco Siffredi (22 May 1979 – 8 September 2002) was a French snowboarder and mountaineer who hailed from a climbing family; his father was a mountain guide and his brother had died in an avalanche in Chamonix. He was the first to descend Mount Everest on a snowboard in 2001 via the Norton Couloir. In 2002, he disappeared after making his second successful Everest summit, while attempting to snowboard the Hornbein Couloir.
First Everest Descent
One of the great mysteries of Mount Everest involves a French snowboarder who is credited with being the first person to snowboard from the top of the iconic mountain, the tallest on Earth. Marco Siffredi begins the first successful snowboard descent of Mount Everest in May 2001 via the Norton Couloir.
Marco Siffredi reached the summit of Everest, a 29,035-foot mountain, on May 23, 2001 with the help of oxygen along with two Sherpas who brought the equipment. Siffredi was forced to snowboard down an alternative route to the one he considered the Holy Grail of snowboarding. The coveted Hornbein Couloir didn’t have enough snow, so he rode down the Norton Couloir for the historic ride back to Advanced Base Camp at the foot of the North Col. Then begins the descent down the Norton Couloir of the north face, but after only 200 meters due to the intense cold (- 35 °C) breaks a fastening strap snowboard; a Sherpa joins him and unable to repair it, then Marco continues the descent to 6,400 meters, using two hours.
On May 22, the Austrian Stefan Gatt reached the summit alone and without using oxygen. He went on a snowboard up to 8,600 meters along the north wall, but at that altitude he found very hard snow and decided to continue without snowboard; the quota of 7,500 meters using shooting snowboarding, going up to 6,450 meters. There were disputes about who will be awarded the first snowboard descent of Everest in, as Stefan Gatt got out first, but for about 1,000 meters without using a snowboard. The site everestnews.com attributed primacy to Marco Siffredi but the site snowboarding.transworld.net recognized merits and demerits to both, for which the record was shared.
Second Everest Descent
Apparently, the first descent wasn’t enough. With the mountain beckoning him to try again, Siffredi decided this time he’d go in September, when Hornbein would have more snow. So he set out to summit Everest a second time, again carrying his snowboard with him together with his sherpa Phurba Tashi, Marco Siffredi whent to the top. In August 2002 part for Nepal with the intention to make the first snowboard descent of Everest along the passage Hornbein Couloir, with slopes between 45 ° and 55 °. On August 10, leaving Katmandu with three Sherpa (Phurba, Pa Nuru and Da Tenzing) towards the base camp in Tibet at an altitude of 5,000 meters, which is reached on August 14. On September 7, the group reaches the advanced field at an altitude 8,300 m. The summit of Everest (8,848 m) is reached on the afternoon of September 9 and after an hour of rest Marco decided to start the descent. Marco Siffredi, was known for making several first descents of big peaks on a snowboard—while wearing his luck-cross, this day he forgot to bring it. On Sept. 8, 2002, after a grueling 12-hour push Marco finally reached the summit. Phurba Tashi Sherpa reached the summit first. When Siffredi joined him a short time later, Phurba greeted him with an enthusiastic question:
- “Where are we?” - “At the summit, but tired,” Siffredi answered.
Phurba did a little dance and exclaimed:
- “Summit! Summit!”
Siffredi didn’t share the enthusiasm.
- “Tired. Tired. Too much snow. Too much climbing,” Siffredi said.
Marco Siffredi was now on the summit of Mount Everest, getting ready to snowboard down the Hornbein Couloir. Siffredi strapped his snowboard to his feet, got some help from a trusted Sherpa friend. Is piling up the clouds and the sherpas would recommend the company to give up, but he decided to continue. It was 3 p.m. Clouds began forming below. The Sherpas, concerned about the conditions and lateness of the day, urged Siffredi not to go. But he’d come too far and wasn’t about to pass on his dream ride. Phurba helped a tired Siffredi prepare for his dangerous descent.
- “Take care, Marco,” Phurba said. - “OK, Phurba. See you tomorrow.”
As far as we know, those were the last words Siffredi spoke to another human being. Siffredi rode toward the Hornbein Couloir and disappeared into the clouds below on his snowboard. He was never seen again.
When Sherpa arrive at base camp, seeing no traces of snowboarding, they realize that Mark did not have it done.
Later, as the Sherpa's were packing up gear at Camp 3, they looked down at the North Col and saw what looked like a man stand up, then slide silently down the mountain on a snowboard. Nobody else was on the mountain, they were certain. Climbing season had long since past. When the Sherpa arrived at the North Col where they saw the mysterious figure, there where no snowboard tracks. It is at this point that they know Marco is dead. Most deaths on Everest are attributed to avalanches, injuries sustained in falls, ice collapsing, and exposure to the harsh elements or related health issues. But this time an avalanche might have taken Siffredi’s life. That day there was a lot of freshly fallen powder snow, although fresh powder snow is great for snowboarding, it can be very dangerous as far as avalanches go, as it has not stabilized. More than 200 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest. Only one has died attempting to descend the legendary mountain on a snowboard. After a few days the French government sent a group of mountaineers to inspect the area in the hope of finding alive or at least to recover the body, but saw only a few traces of the descent that ended about 350 meters below the summit. His body has never been found. According to a longtime friend, Mike van Westering, Marco he would fall asleep during a break (estimated dell'Hornbein Couloir descent to the base of the same fact would last a few hours) to never wake up more (the so-called "white death ') alleging that the spot where Marco disappeared no significant risks of falling.
Highlights of the north face of Everest. In May 1996 in snowboard down the north face of the Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc, along the track Mallory, a descent of 1,000 meters with passages of more than 50 degrees.
In 1998, as preparation for climbing the Himalayas, the scale Tocilarajo in Peru (6,032 m) with Philippe Forte and René Robert, then falls on a snowboard.
On 17 June 1999 makes the first snowboard descent of the Nant Blanc wall of Aiguille Verte of Mont Blanc, with passages of more than 55 degree incline. In autumn of the same year the scale Dorje Lhakpa (6,988 m) in Nepal and makes the first snowboard descent of this mountain.
In June 2000 the scale Huayna Potosi (6,088 m) in Bolivia. In autumn the scale Cho Oyu in the Himalayas (8,201 m), the sixth highest mountain on Earth.
In autumn 2001 the scale Shisha Pangma Himalayas (8,027 m) with the intention of making the entire descent in snowboard, but the strong wind begins to use only the portion of 7,000 meters.
- "Marco Siffredi First Ever to Board Everest". Everest News. 2001. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
- Sarah Smith (2002-09-27). "Everest Snowboarder Vanishes On Second Try". National Geographic Adventure. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
- Snowboarding Mt. Everest, article from snowboarding.about.com
- The Disappearance of Marco Siffredi, article from TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine: The Disappearance Of Marco Siffredi.
- 2013: Portrait Painting of Marco Siffredi
- , article from MountainZone.com: Steep Ascents and First Descents (Siffredi's second descent of Nant Blanc, Aiguille Verte)