More 8000 Meter Backcountry Skiing Thoughts

Post by blogger | November 8, 2005      

Yesterday, distracted by the issue of meaningless “firsts,” I neglected to cover what notable skiing had actually been done on Cho Oyo.

The peak is the easiest 8,0000 meter peak to climb and ski, and is very popular as a climb. By saying “easiest” I don’t mean to denigrate the challenge of climbing Cho, as it’s still a high, tough mountain — especially if done without supplemental oxygen or heavy handed guiding.

Cho Oyo was first skied from the summit in 1988, by Italians Flavio Spazzadeschi and Lino Zani. In 2000 Laura Bakos (defunct link removed 2015) backcountry skied from the summit and became the first North American woman to ski an 8000 meter peak. Laura’s firsts pale in comparison to the actual 1988 first descent, but nonetheless have a lot more significance than a first based on what gear the skier used.

Another interesting factoid about Cho is it was the first 8000 meter peak to have a significant (but non-summit) ski descent: In 1964 Fritz Stammberger did the first climb of the the peak done without supplemental oxygen, then skied down from 24,000 feet. More Stammberger backcountry skiing info.

Still up for more mountain skiing firsts? The first ski descent of an 8,000 meter peak from the summit was probably that of Josef Millenger and Peter Wrogotter, who skied the NE face of Manaslu in 1981. After that, another early ski descent of an 8,000 meter peak was done by Sylvain Saudan in 1982, on Hidden Peak (8068 meters). (research links for this information went defunct, deleted 2015)

Up for a bit of Saudan trivia? The guy was talented — and also known as a somewhat harsh business man who attempted to extract profit from everything possible. He even went so far as to sue Whistler ski resort for “illegal” use of his name when they named a run after him! (The “Couloir Extreme” was originally named for Saudan).


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