Newsletter 2223 May 2001
In the middle of the Third Step, a flash of purple crested the summit ridge. It was Marco, on his snow board, surfing the summit pyramid of Everest. We were psyched. I stopped and pulled out my video camera and captured a few turns. Giant rooster tails of snow shot backwards, catching the light and magnifying his whole show.
He surfed by us, and then stopped to re-adjust a binding. I tried to wait for him to carve more turns, but the cold was burning my fingers and the view was destroying my nerve. Marco was literally standing on a crest of a bulge, no it was a sheer cliff face. Catch an edge: you fly then die. He needed to repair his binding and then...
Russ was at the North Col with a powerful spotting scope. He could see the narrow shoots and thin traverses that Marco needed to link up. Problem was no single clear and correct line to follow. Marco and Russ needed to work out a route, based more on Marco's boldness than on the logic and intelligence of their 50 combined years of skiing.
Binding "fixed", Marco pushed off, cresting the bulge and finding the narrow, rightward leaning, band of snow that was the only possible secret route through the maze of cliff bands, avalanche prone shoots and dead ends that Russ was second guessing.
Marco's talent can not be under rated. He obviously can surf rocks as well as snow. He has pushed his sport to a new limit, first in the Alps, then South America and in the last few years in the Himalaya. (Remember that he turned 22 on May 22). Marco pushed Russ ("I'll never watch him snowboard again.") showing him that rocks were part of the path, jump and push off of them, stealing tricks from skate boarding to surf Everest.
Marco descended over 6000 feet (1900 meters) from the summit, into the Great Coulior. Russ and he eventually teamed up there, where Marco had to spin around on his board, swing his axe into the ice and then hop over to a safer, softer slope. Once back on the North Ridge, he set off again, descending another 2000 ft (650 m) to ABC.