Less than 1,000 feet from the summit of Mount Everest, John Callahan, Jim Gile and their childhood friends, twin brothers Mike and Steve Marolt, realized they had to turn back. Mike's feet had gone numb.
"When your feet go numb, you just don't know what state they're in," Marolt told a breathless crowd at the Boise Contemporary Theater, which screened a documentary called Skiing Everest chronicling their trip.
While they didn't summit, the group etched their names in history as the first Americans to ski down the North Face of the mountain. For them, it's not about the summit, it's about the skiing.
Co-directed by Mike Marolt, the documentary screened at BCT Jan. 6-7 and included an audience Q&A after each screening. Marolt has spent years climbing the world's highest mountains with his brother and best friends, and has skied through what's called "the death zone," above 8,000 meters.
"At 28,000 feet, when you're moving around, you're having fun," Marolt said. "But when you're not, it feels like a combination of a super bad hangover and the flu. You feel like your body is just going to stop."
As kids, the Marolts were enamored with their father, Max, who skied Aspen, Colo., his whole life. Max also went on to ski treacherous Alaskan and South American slopes. The boys recount the story of losing their father, and of his death doing what he loved—he died of a heart attack as he reached the base of his last run, still in his skis.