Ever since I watched the French movie “Tout là-haut”(a tribute to the legendary snowboarder Marco Siffredi) a couple of years back, I have been reading and researching about him. There was something mystical about him that I could not stop spending time reading about his life
You would be surprised to know that he started snowboarding only when he was 17. So all his unbelievable accomplishments were done in a time span of 6 years (He died when he was 23)
I was reading the book “See You Tomorrow” by Jeremy Evan which captures the finer details about Marco. Marco’s life was all about pushing the limits – it was as though he knew that his life on earth was short and he had to raise the bar quickly.
In 2001 – He was the first to descend Mount Everest on a snowboard 2001 through the Norton Couloir at the tender age of 22. For any lesser mortal, scaling Everest and coming down Norton Couloir would have been the ultimate challenge. But for Marco, The Hornbein Couloir was the ultimate challenge (it is way more steeper and dangerous)
In 2002 – He scaled Everest again to conquer The Hornbein Couloir, but was never to be seen again !!!
So what went wrong in 2002?
1. In 2001, since he reached the summit in May, the snow on the Hornbein Couloir was thin, and not ideal to snowboard downhill. This meant he had to take the Norton Couloir
2. In 2002, he scaled Everest in September – ideal conditions for snowboarding with a thick layer of soft snow
But there was a critical aspect that was not baked into the equation. The thick, deep fresh snow meant that his time to scale the peak went up from 4 hrs (in 2001) to 12 hrs (in 2002). He was exhausted by the time he was at the summit.
The Sherpa advised him not to go ahead with his descent as the hike was very tough. But by then the adrenaline was pumping and Marco saw his chance to become immortal. He overlooked the advice of the experts and went ahead. To date, he remains the only person to have ever attempted The Hornbein Couloir….. sometimes wonder how someone can challenge the limits of human endurance at such a young age !!!
Having read a lot on this topic, I finally am able to pen down my key takeaways:
a. Youthful exuberance can let people do things that are almost impossible.
b. Some of your previous success can put this thought of “Being invincible” in your mind
c. You tend to overlook the advice that experts share in your quest you add one more impossible accomplishment
I so wish Marco would have taken the advice and come back again to attempt the descent, but I guess he might not have become immortal !!!
PS: This was the last photo that was taken of him before he started his descent.