For more than 10 days the French snowboarder and mountaineer Marco Siffredi has been reported missing from the North Face of Everest. He was last seen attempting to snowboard down the Hornbein couloir, but unfortunately the chances of finding the young Frenchman alive now are practically zero.
In May 2001 Siffredi carried out the first complete snowboard descent of the Norton couloir down the North Face (Tibet), and with this feat he justifiably wrote a new chapter in Everests history book. Siffredi planned to repeat last years success down the more difficult Hornbein Couloir, a steep direct 45-50° gully that cuts through the North Face, to the west of the Norton couloir.
After acclimatising at the start of August, Siffredi climbed the NW ridge packed heavily with snow this autumn and reached the summit last Sunday together with two Sherpas. Siffredi started his descent at about 16.00 on 8 September, watched closely by his friend and Mountain Guide Olivier Besson, who had reached ABC at 6400m. After a few meters Siffredi snowboarded out of Bessons field of view as he entered part of the couloir not visible from ABC. The descent should have lasted not more than a couple of hours, but the Frenchman did not reappear at the foot of the North Face.
All attempts by Besson and the Sherpas to locate Siffredi, or possible avalanches, have failed so far. It is impossible therefore to know what exactly happened, although it is almost too easy to imagine how even the slightest mistake, on a descent like this, can be fatal.
Everest, Siffredi snowboards down the Norton Couloir (28/05/01)