Mike and Steve Marolt
Discipline: High Altitude Skiing
Favorite Mammut gear: Nordwand Pro Jacket and Pants
Favorite climb and ski area: Any peak higher than 6000m
In May 2000, after a childhood growing up in Aspen and climbing and skiing in Colorado’s Elk Mountains, twins Mike and Steve Marolt climbed and skied down the Central Peak of Tibet’s Shishapangma. This marked the first time anyone from the Western Hemisphere had accomplished skiing from above 8,000 meters. Since then, Mike and Steve have become the only Americans to do this multiple times, preceded by just four other people in the world.
The Marolt brothers’ ski heritage starts four generations ago when the family first arrived in Aspen Valley. Beginning as simple miners and barkeeps, they became ranchers and eventually world class skiers. Mike and Steve’s father, Max Marolt, joined the US Olympic team in 1954 and skied in the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics in 1960. Max’s career in the ski industry spanned 60 years. He and his brother Bill have both been inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.
Mike and Steve’s passion as ski mountaineers is complemented by professional careers as CPAs. They own and manage a successful accounting firm in Aspen. The brothers have also established themselves as independent filmmakers, having produced eight adventure documentary films, including SKIING EVEREST, which won the Ski Channel’s Best Adventure Film of the Year in 2010. SKIING EVEREST has premiered all over the world, most recently on ESPN, and has just been converted to 3D, making it the first film on Everest to premier in that format.
Mike and Steve have many accomplishments to list over their 25 years climbing and skiing some 40 of the world’s greatest peaks. They take no short cuts to the top, by not using supplemental oxygen, porter support, or altitude drugs. They have developed a natural progression technique to high-altitude acclimatization, keeping safety as the main goal. They are leaders in known ski descents from above 7,000 meters/23,000 feet, with 6 descents to their credit. They have experienced dozens of descents above 6,000 meters/19,600 feet.
Major ski mountaineering accomplishments among others include:
1990 - Ascent of Denali, North America’s highest peak
1991/1992 – Ski expeditions to Canada’s highest peak
1993 - Exploratory fixed wing ski expedition, Wrangell-St. Elias Park, Alaska followed by several years of expeditions to the area including St. Elias, Bona, Blackburn, Bear, and numerous unnamed peaks.
1997 - Ascent of Broad Peak, Pakistan, their first 8,000 m/26,000 ft. expedition
2000 - First Americans to ski from 8,000 m/26,000 ft., Shishapangma’s Central Peak, Tibet
2003 - First Americans to ski Mt. Everest’s North Ridge
2006 - First Americans, 5th people ever, with multiple ski descents from above 8,000 m/26,000 ft., Cho Oyu, Tibet
2006 - Second ski descent of Mt. Everest’s north ridge
2007 - First Americans, second people ever, to ski Bolivia’s highest peak, Sajama, 6,545 m/21,475 ft.
2008 - First known ski descent of Tibet’s Norjin Kansang (sixth ski descent above 7,000 m/23,000 ft.)
2009 - First ski descent of Peru’s Coropuna, Baraco Route, 6,425 m/21,079 ft.
2010 - Second known ski descent of Ecuador’s highest peak, Chimborozo, 6,310 m/20,700 ft.
2010 - First single-day ascent /ski descent of Bolivia’s Illimani, 6,438 m/21,150 ft.
Mike and Steve are ambassadors of life in Colorado, and always point to their roots in Aspen as the reason why they do what they do. Living in the Colorado Rockies not only challenged them to establish themselves as leaders in an elite sport, it has introduced them to other individuals of inspiration in the ski industry.
The Marolt brothers devote time and talent in supporting non-profits, including Aspen Ski Club, Challenge Aspen, the Jimmie Heuga Center Endowment, and Can Do Multiple Sclerosis. In addition to providing pro-bono accounting services, they are active fundraisers for Muscular Dystrophy, Cancer, Victims of Drunk Drivers, the US Ski Team and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Inducted Explorer’s Club Members, 2001
- Listed in Outside Magazine’s Top 25 Outdoor Achievements in The First 25 Years
- Listed in Sports Illustrated’s Famous Descents
- Featured in National Geographic Explorer
- Interviewed twice for CNN Today Show
- Profiled in Forbes Magazine’s Adventures with Jim Clash
- Featured in Warren Miller’s film Higher Ground (2006)
- Featured on NBC World of Adventure Sports/OLN Adventure Quest
- Outside Magazine feature story by Nick Paumgarten, 2010
Ambassadors/sponsored athletes for Atomic, Lowa, Mammut, Tissot, Under Armour, Platinum Performance and Aspen Skiing Company, among others
- Spokesperson for Merck Pharmaceuticals, 2009
- Creator of 24 Hours of Sunlight Ski Race, a benefit event for Multiple Sclerosis
Mike attributes their desire to help others to his friendship with Olympian Jimmie Heuga, another long-time Colorado resident and Ski Hall of Fame inductee. While still a teenager, Mike recalls when he and his father met Jimmie in the gallery at a world cup race, and were asked to help him get to his car. Mike was shocked as Max picked Jimmie up and carried him. That was the first time Mike came into direct contact with the devastating effects of a chronic disease.
This single experience led Mike to support the cause when asked by Jimmie to “fight the fight against MS”. Jimmie challenged Mike, Steve and other young people like them to pick a fight, “any fight, cancer, homelessness, starvation, anything” and help “knock out all the terrible diseases and conditions “in the world. Mike became a board member for the Jimmie Heuga Center/Can Do MS and recently completed a documentary film on Jimmie’s life, Can Do: The Legacy of Jimmie Heuga. Mike and Steve use their films for fundraising purposes and attend events to inspire others, promoting both charitable giving and life in the mountains.