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High Times

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Last May, Mike and Steve Marolt of Aspen, both 35, schussed down 26,291-foot Shishapangma and into the record books as the first North Americans (and probably the first twins) to ski from the top of an 8,000-meter peak. Maybe “schussed” isn’t the right word: “The snow was horrible-very avalanche prone-and we had total blizzard conditions,” Mike recalls.

In the first several hundred feet down the Tibetan peak, the two skied an icy knife-edge ridge (with 6,000-foot drop-offs) and rappelled twice.

“It isn’t a point-’em-down, let-’em-rip thing,” says Mike. “It was unbelievably exhausting. You can only make about two turns at a time, and then it takes a while for your brain to register that your feet are under you.” The brothers overnighted at 22,000 feet before skiing to snow line at about 18,500 feet.

The October 1999 deaths of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges on the same mountain didn’t dissuade the Marolts and their team. Nor are they through with the Death Zone: The brothers’ next expedition will be to ski Everest, in 2002.