Tomas vanished at around 8500 meters yesterday, following a fall at a rock section a few hours after his Everest summit. The rope broke loose from the wall and Tomas began falling down the north side. Tormod climbed down after Tomas but found only his ice axe. Image of Tomas Olsson courtesy of his website.
Everest Viking skier Tomas Olsson missing after fall

Posted: May 17, 2006 06:06 pm EDT
Tomas Olsson is missing on Everest north face, while Norwegian Tormod Granheim has descended to 6500 meter. Tomas vanished at around 8500 meters yesterday, following a fall. The two skiers began their ski descent around lunch May 16 after a 14 hour hard ascent to the summit. One hour later, they began skiing down the Norton couloir.

Pia Rosin, the team's press manager told ExplorersWeb in a phone call that the climbers encountered a 50 ft rock section a few hours below the summit and began rappelling down. The anchor broke and Tomas fell, continuing to slide down the wall. Tormod immediately climbed down after Tomas but found only his ice axe. Swedish authorities and Tomas family are notified.

Tormod Granheim, Fredrik Schenholm (the expedition photographer), Olof Sundström and Martin Letzter (Swedes who skied down easier sections that night) are all currently at 6400 meter getting ready to climb back up and search for Tomas. They expect to take up to 4 days to comb through the area.

Swede Tomas Olsson and Norwegian Tormod Granheim climbed Everests North side on May 16, 2006.

The guys successfully skied down Cho Oyu in fall, 2004. However, logistical problems prevented the pair from attempting a similar feat on Shisha Pangma that year.

Tormod summited Cho Oyu on September 30, 2004, after a 13 hour push and descended on skis. It was a tough ride - the route was very steep and the snow had a layer of crust that Tormod continuously broke through. The altitude was also a problem, "I'd take a few turns and then would stop to take a few breaths." The ride went down to 6400 meters and took around three hours.

October 2 the same year, Tomas Olsson summited Cho Oyu as well in a 10 hour push - and became the first Swede to ski down a 8000er. "There was about 8 inches of fresh snow on the summit and the first turns down felt awesome. The skiing went remarkably well in spite of some altitude headache. After the new snow came a couple of steep passages lower on the mountain, and some route finding between crevasses," he said back then.

Olsson and Granheim have been training hard all winter in Chamonix, French Alps, for the upcoming Everest challenge. Fredrik Schenholm joined the expedition as a photographer.

Tomas Olsson and Tormod Granheim both live in Chamonix, France, where they have skied many of the classic lines. In fall 2003 the duo rehearsed for the 2004 project by skiing from the summit of two 7000+ mountains, Muztagh Ata (7546m) & Kuksay Peak (7186m) in China.