Look Out Below

Twins Steve (left) and Mike Marolt are highaltitude skiers who claim more descents above 7,000 meters than any other skier.

When climbers begin making their ascent up the tallest peaks in the world, they probably don’t expect to see two identical twin brothers heading down on skis. But among those who ski the high altitudes known as the "Death Zone," these Saint Mary’s grads stand above the rest.

"When you grow up in a mountain town like Aspen and the skiing culture is ingrained in your family, it’s just a natural progression," says Mike Marolt '87 when asked how he and his brother Steve '87 ended up with such an unusual pastime. "I always tell people it’s similar to kids who grow up on the
North Shore of Oahu and end up surfing the monster waves. Just the human spirit living free in whatever the natural surroundings are."

Sons of 1960 Olympic skier Max Marolt, these brothers have been at it for years and have tallied more descents from above 7,000 meters than any other skiers. But looking back, their opportunity to begin taking these adventures can be traced to Saint Mary’s.

"My brother and I earned our accounting degrees at Saint Mary’s," says Mike. "Now we’re both CPAs. We worked together to make our trips possible, but we ended up loving our profession. Saint Mary’s gave us the tools and skills we needed and kept us grounded. Our education and careers are critical to allowing us to do what we do in the mountains."

In addition to the professional preparation Saint Mary’s offered, Mike learned a lot during his undergraduate years about how to excel athletically through baseball. "Going from playing seven games a year in Aspen to making the Saint
Mary’s team helped me understand what it takes to compete at a higher level," he says.

Another passion grew out of the Marolts’ skiing madness: filmmaking. "Skiing Everest," filmed by co-director Mike, was released in 2009, documenting skiers who "climb the highest peaks in the world in pure alpine style, carrying their skis and declining to use supplemental oxygen." Mike is now working on the sequel, "Beyond Skiing Everest," and another film profiling the late Jimmie Heuga, one of the first Americans to earn an Olympic medal in an alpine event.

"Not long after Jimmie won the bronze in '64, he came down with multiple sclerosis," says Marolt. "He helped revolutionize how MS was treated by stressing physical exercise and mental training. He was my friend and I’m looking forward to telling his story."

Whether at work during tax season, filming a new movie or conquering yet another mountain, the spirit of Saint Mary’s remains present in all the brothers do. As Mike says, "Saint Mary’s strengthened the bond between Steve and me and really opened the doors to do everything we love doing today."