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  A brief conclusion at the end of skiing down the highest peaks of the seven continents by Davo Karnicar


Seven continents, advantures, preparations, uncertainties, celebrations, climbs and continuous skiing down the slopes of the highest spots of the continents. Seven wishes come true and seven different lifestyles …, trying to summarize the impressions of my trails in a small tent, veiled in the moist and the cold of the Antarctic fog.

Asia – Mount Everest, October 7th, 2000

Reaching the top after eight hours of climbing from the Southern slope accompanied by the Pasang Tenzing, Franc Oderlap and by the sherpa Ang Dorja Chuldium. At around 6 am. Dealing with -32 degrees Celsius an hour later, right before the ski descent. Relaxing first few metres of the gently sloping ridge to check the equipment, side slithering down the sharp and winding crest over the Hilary level. The danger of the snowslide between the southern top and the southern mountain pass due to the blowing snow, icebound Lhotse rock wall here and there all the way to the Western hollow. A long rest and time to think about the ice cataract, phisically the hardest section of the skiing – below the Western shoulder and the Lho La mountain pass. Underneath the frightening overhangs and over the bare slopes where snowslides thunder almost each and every day, all until fulfilling the dreams: from the highest spot down to 5350 metres, where the snow dissapears, and finally to the base camp. After 4 hours and 40 minutes of skiing the two-day waiting for my friends, that descended in the standard fashion, began. The triumph was substantiated by the three more Slovenian climbs to the top. In Namche Bazar, next to Chang and Rakshi, the idea about skiing down all the continents was born.

Africa – Mount Kilimanjaro, November 2001

I still feel bad for not acting according to the rules of the National park that forbid any kind of activity except walking on the Kilimanjaro slope. A meter long skiis were for sure not easy to hide in my otherwise very comfortable backpack. Utter exotic – Leaning on my ski poles and performing three small hops down the gently sloping rocks, I reached the volcanic sand. As far as the running dry glacier there is no particulary steep slope … hard pushing and smooth turns as well as falling over when hitting the snow base make me laugh every time I watch the video. Along the edge of the glacier throught the snow in direction to the city Arusha and then ascending back to where we started. Fullfiling the set goal once again – from the top, not one meter below it, all the way down to where there snow diminishes. I am very proud of the daughter of my co-climber, 13-year old Tadeja, and my son, 15-year old Tadej, that reached the peak along with several friends of mine as well.  

Europe – Mount Elbrus, May 2002

Already back in the summer of 1986, I skied from the top of this mountain together with my brother Luka – there was still snow on the slopes due to higher temperatures. Wind sweepes away all the snowflakes in the upper part of the mountain during still cold springtime, but at the same time, this allows us to ski 1500 metres lower, all until the Terskol village, not just to Bočki on 3700 metres above the sea level. Ski slopes aren't steep; it can be very cold however. When visibility is good, we can orient ourseleves with ease and thus avoid the glacier crevasses. So far, I have skied down this slope for four times already and gave pieces of advice on the go to 17 other skiers and one snowboarder, even my wife, that skied here in 2004.

South America – Aconcagua, January 2003

The mountain that enchanted me from the geological point of view. The mighty and colorful strata seem as an open book that silently, but richly tell of its origin, the rising towards the sky and the sinking into the ground, the erosion and the striking of the wind. Constant wind and hence an antypical transformation of the snow while melting form the fragile Penitentos – a foot high snow forms to drive slalom inbetween.

Omitting the aclimatisation period and fighting the wind pressures, I reached the peak hastily, but not effortlessly. I used my one-metre skiis for the upper section, since the narrow snow surface hardly allowed turning – I sometimes even had to cross the stony slopes with my skiis on. Lower two thirds of the mountain offered more manoeuvring space on one hand, but skiing demanded still the same amount of effort. It was hard to retain balance on longer skiis while bashing the Penitentos. On video, it seems as if I was only starting to learn how to do the turns.

Australia – Mount Kosciusko, July 2003

Regarding the mountains in Australia, two are reffered to as the highest peaks – the Karzsten Pyramid in Indonesia and the continental Mt. Kosciusko. Most of the climbers conquer both of them to suffice the Theory. It is however somewhat different with skiing, since snow only covers Mt. Kosciusko.

Skiing down the slope from the stone pillar at 2230 metres above the sea level is very diverse, but also comfortable, safe and free from anxiety … if the weather is nice. My brother Andrej accompanies me on the tour – this was our first joint expedition abroad after the year 1995, when we did Annapurna 1 (8091 – 4700 metres) and where my brother tragically lost eight feet fingers due to unbearable cold. Fog and wind were our loyal companions … and we had to deal with numerous fall-overs as a result of a strong diffuse light. Our impression was not improved all until we finally reached the nice ski slopes of Thredbo. We enjoyed our time together and laughed over our adventures, only as we went through our videos and noticed that we accidentally overwrote the happening from the upper part of the mountain with coalas from the ZOO. Luckily, we haven't forgotten about the classic photography!

North America – Denali, May 2004

Alaska and the royal mountain over the blurred vastness of wilderness. People, that rejoice each and every visitor, magical forests, wild rivers … Skiing from 4000 metres above the sea level. I wish to go there again!

Together with Franc and Marko Lihteneker, we undertook this expedition in a bit of a competitive fashion – we needed less then two weeks for the whole trip. The ridge that ascends towards the sky was unforgettable. And when one dares to think he will reach the peak, a huge hollow awaits him as well as the final climb on a sharpened top of the mountain. We weren't very lucky having the bad weather we did, the wind and low temperatures. Like I haven't paid enough dues by losing two of my fingers in ideal climate conditions on Everest when trying to climb it for the first time from the Tibetan side in 1996.

While skiing from 4000 metres all sorts of different snow structures started to uncover – from ice in the steep slope above the base camp to soaked slush around the glacier airport. There was even powdery snow – I think I have never yodel as much as I did on this mountain.

Antarctic – Mount Vinson, November 28th, 2006

After almost losing hope, I was finally on my way again. Slovenians are a small nations and only few manage to bear the pressure of succeeding. I found it harder to organize all the necessary materials for the trip than dealing with –50 degrees Celsius. One truly has to master the policy of ALE as well as wisely deal with the cold. Uncompromising marketing demands escort, to be able to climb on your own, you have to sign a responsibility statement, but when it comes to helping the exhausted and frozen clients, at least in our case, the ALE employees were the first to go back to their warm and cosy shelter – while the rest of us took care after the ones that needed our help, without signing and responsibility forms.

Every mountain demands a lot of cautiousness and effort, I have learned this for one more time. Me and Franc got stuck in the upper part of the mountain because of the bad weather with fog, wind and paralysing cold. After more then 10 hours we finally reached the overhang, put on the skiis, took a photo and carefully slided towards a hardly defineable direction. The crampons' traces were in great support to us all until the fog started to clear about 500 metres below the top. Below the base camp No. 2, where the majority sets up their tents, there is an unevenly ice-bound part of the mountain that turns into a concave slope full of powdery snow, the real one! My wide skiis ensured a great reward – stunning turns right before the historic completion of the task.

The 16-day stay on Antarctica offered us only four days of lovely weather, therefore I was even more proud when all the four of us stood on the top, also Marjana Lihteneker and Franc Rupnik.

I had luck on my side and I am very proud to be able to ski down the highest peaks of the seven continents.

I would like to tell my family, my friends and my sponsors that this is our success. I will be very grateful, if you take this historic achievement as an acknowledgment of your help and concerns, that you had for me.

We have skied all the continents on always reliable skiis Elan – I am very thankful for providing me with the equipment.

Also, these brands have proved themselves with their products and started a new page in the history of alpinism: Scarpa, Naxo, Komperdell, ACG-Nike, Bolle, Seven Summits, Mc.Kinley, Brynje in O24.                                                                                                  Davo Karničar

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