Ski mountaineering in the Himalayas is a risky pursuit. Not only does one have to deal with inclement weather, altitude, logistics and the other risk factors of alpinism, but also the complications of trying to ski a line in the death zone. Kim Havell explores the challenges of ski mountainering on Tibet’s 26,289 foot Shishapangma.

Our cook had vanished into literal thin air. Tek, the Tibetan man in question, went missing somewhere during the move to advanced base camp at 18,700 feet. In retrospect, this is where our expedition took a turn for the worse. The team arrived at camp mid-day and the yaks, laden with our gear, wandered in later that afternoon. After 2,300 feet of elevation gain over relatively benign terrain, the imposing peak of Shishapangma loomed directly ahead…

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