World’s longest ski vert

Where is the world’s biggest ski vertical? You might imagine Everest or perhaps somewhere amongst the high mountain of Peru. Two Austrian skiers from Kitzbühel, Axel Naglich et Peter Ressmann have just skied Mont Saint Elias, in Alaska. At 5489 meters altitude it is far from the highest mountain in the world, it is not even the highest summit in Alaska. That honour goes to 6193 meter Denali (Mt McKinley). However you can ski from the summit to sea level, over 5km of challenging vertical. Mount Everest can only muster 3,448 meters of lung busting descent to base camp.

mount st elias
Nice view

The descent is challenging. The slope flirts with 60 degrees and is icy and heavily crevassed in places. The summit is rarely climbed due to harsh weather conditions; Naglich and Ressmann were the first to summit in 5 years. An American ski team had already perished attempting the summit, their bodies entombed in the ever shifting icescape. The two Austrians were accompanied renowned cameraman Gerald Salmina and a documentary film is expected soon.

Première descente à skis de la plus longue piste du monde - brief description in French with pictures.

Posted by davidof on Saturday, 01 September, 2007 at 09:37 AM

yeah, big time descent. really cool to hear someone finally was able to do it. an old ski buddy of mine, Aaron Martin was one of those who died during a previous attempt. this is definitely one of the most sought-after ski descents in the world...which leads eventually to close scrutiny, especially given the heavy promotion given to it. So, I ask a few questions:
1) did they really ski to sea level. from what i saw on their redbull site video: NO. thus, they need to re-qualify the lenght of their ski descent.
2)then to what elevation did they ski to?
of course, this is a minor point, but important if they are claiming something they did not do.
3) it should be noted that according to the redbull site it was not a continous descent done in one go but broken up in two days: check out trip diary for details
So, it was not a continous descent, which every skier knows is the ultimate way to do such a run.
4) this was a fully sponsored trip and it will be interesting to see if it was fully autonomous or if they had any “extra” help from others to make their descent possible, beyond the current definition of a self-supported expedition.

5) the most important point is that they did it; now the question is by what means and how much was actually skied, especially due to late time in season.
It would be great to hear from the expedition members more information. this does not take anything away from their descent, but important to know, especially for those who wish to one day visit the mountain with skis.

If it was just a small expedition with little hoopla then I would not publicly ask these questions. But whenever someone decides to play the media circus game, it opens them up to critiques (whether warranted or not).
For Example, both Kit Delauriers and Davo Kanicar’s descents from Everest were both given the same sort of fine-comb treatment, and it appears that ski-mountaineering claims do not always correspond to the advertised accomplishments, especially on important ethical points of 1) how much was actually skied (turns and not sideslipping or roping up with skis on), 2) was the run continuous or not, 3) were skiers autonomous or did they recieve outside help (sherpas, helis, spotters with radios, etc. etc.).

Posted by  on  Monday, 03 September, 2007  at 02:55 PM

There certainly doesn’t seem to be much snow below 2000 meters does there? The problem is the descent has been split into two expeditions. They skied to sea level in May but didn’t make the summit. They then returned in August when they skied the upper reaches. Hence the two days - but not even two consecutive days. So yes, they can claim a ski descent but the mountain is still waiting for someone to do the whole thing, in one go - they have demonstrated the potential.

Maybe a project for you Colin with Andrew McLean?

As far as Everest, I’m waiting for a ski off the summit down the Hornbein!

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 03 September, 2007  at 05:37 PM

Good effort guys but it’s not exactly “skiing the vert”, which suggest doing it all in one go..

on that basis I can run a marathon - do 13 miles now and come back in 3 months for the remaining 13 miles (365 yds)

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 04 September, 2007  at 12:58 AM

Funny I mentioned Andrew McClean because checking his website reveals that Exum Guide Lorne Glick did the first ski descent from the summit of Mount St Elias

This was confirmed by a recent entry in the Peakware website

Date(s) climbed: May 2000
Signed By: Lorne Glick (US)

Our party of four Coloradans were dropped at 7000’ on the Columbia Glacier. After several weeks of studying the mountain and suffering at a camp at 13500’ we summited via the Mira Face. We donned skis on the very summit and skied back to our high camp without any rappels or down-climbing. The next day we descended back to base camp.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 24 September, 2007  at 04:52 PM

Peter Ressman has been killed in an abseiling accident in Austria.

While belaying it appears he unclipped the wrong karibiner and fell 25 meters to his death.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 01 June, 2010  at 02:47 PM
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