Adrian Ballinger made history on Monday by becoming the first person to ski down Makalu, the world’s fifth-highest mountain. 27,838-foot Makalu is in the Himalayas on the Nepal/China border about 12m southeast of Everest.
According to his Instagram, Ballinger and two Sherpas made it to the summit on Monday morning in whiteout conditions. The ski run from the true summit, which involved a combination of skiing, traversing, and rappelling, to the end of the glacier, was more than 8,000-feet vertical. That’s 1.5miles of vertical in one ski run.
“The 8000+ vertical feet of skiing was almost universally steep and firm; the good turns were neve, the bad ones were ice and rock. I’m still looking for the bottomless pow. The descent took all the tricks and lots of shenanigans.”
– Adrian Ballinger
The descent brings to a conclusion a decade-long quest to be the first to ski down the mountain after failed attempts in 2012 and 2015. Ballinger also lays claim to the first ski descent of 26,781-foot Manaslu, the world’s eighth highest mountain. He has also, unsuccessfully, attempted to ski Lhotse and Everest.
“Three important points for those who care (and to make clear that a better, cleaner ski descent awaits someone who wants it in the future)
1. Due to conditions, weather, and other climbers, my ski started 15ish meters below the true summit
2. I took my skis off for one 60-meter rappel of pure rock in the French Couloir at around 26,500 feet
3. When my brain or heart couldn’t handle any more exposure in the iciest or rockiest zones, I occasionally utilized fixed ropes as hand lines.”
– Adrian Ballinger
According to Outside Online, Ballinger’s latest accomplishment leaves only one of the world’s 8,000m peaks unskied – 28,169-foot Kanchenjunga.
Friend of SnowBrains Ballinger is the founder of Alpenglow Expeditions. They’re based right out of the Palisades Tahoe base area but lead expeditions to high peaks worldwide, including Everest. Alpenglow is accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association, which means their professionalism is of the highest caliber. If you’re looking for someone to guide you in the mountains, these are the guys (and gals) you want.