“Shane McConkey’s Last Run” | Men’s Journal Jul/Aug 2009
Shane McConkey spent his life redefining what is possible on skis, and at age 39 he still went bigger than everyone else.
But when he died in an over-the-top stunt, even devoted fans wondered: Have extreme athletes pushed too far?
That last morning, they rode the Sass Pordoi cable car to the summit. Deep in the Dolomite Alps of Italy, Sass Pordoi, at 9,685 feet, is more for tourists and hikers than for skiers; its tablelike summit is almost completely ringed by cliffs. But Shane McConkey and JT Holmes had no interest in marked ski runs. They were there for the cliffs.
Clipping in, they skated across the plateau and skied down about 300 vertical feet before traversing a slanting ledge. The snow was firm, verging on icy, so they switched their skis for crampons. It had snowed during the night, and they had already managed to trigger a small slab avalanche, which slid away from under them and roared over the side, falling hundreds of feet. They paused to collect their wits, then kept going, reaching their destination just before 2 pm.
McConkey had jumped this cliff before, in summer, and ski-BASEing it had been on his to-do list ever since. Now that he was pushing 40, he was checking items off that list as fast as he could.