The 1996 Everest Disaster
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The 1996 Everest Disaster

No one could have predicted the tragedy that was about to unfold that fateful night of May 10, 1996.

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The 1996 Everest Disaster
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After reading the book "Into Thin Air" and watching the movie "Everest," which was based off the book, I just could not get that expedition on Everest out of my head. Here is my synopsis of the book. It is really just so sad that this happened and that so many things went wrong in order for this to have occurred.

The year was 1996 and Rob Hall was headed out on another expedition on Mount Everest. He had done this many times before, but he had no way of knowing the horrors that awaited him in the days to come.

His team consisted of himself, as well as two other guides, Mike Groom and Andy Harris. They had eight clients that year, including a reporter for Outside Magazine. Their expedition, Adventure Consultants, had teamed up with another expedition, Mountain Madness, for the summit push with Scott Fischer as the lead climbing guide.

Even as they began moving up the mountain, there were problem immediately. When they got to the Balcony, they found that there were no fixed ropes ready like they had planned. This held up the climbers as they were forced to wait while the fixed ropes were put in. Again, when they reached the Hillary Step, the same problem awaited the climbers. When you are up at such high altitudes, time is everything. These set backs were holding the climbers back hours. Some of the climbers on the expeditions headed back at this point because they were afraid that their oxygen would not last.

While there was some dispute about when the turn around time was, 2 p.m. was the absolute deadline that had been set. But at that time, most of the climbers had not yet summited. One of the Mountain Madness guides, Anatoli Boukreev, was not using supplemental oxygen. This was something that was considered a big mistake of the day. Without supplemental oxygen, you have to continue to move in order to avoid freezing to death. As a guide, it was his job to help the clients down the mountain safely, but he descended the mountain alone. He did make up for this in the many rescue attempts he went on following news of the disaster.

It is unclear why Rob Hall did not stick to his 2 p.m. turn around time. He even helped a client, Doug Hansen, who had made it within a few hundred feet of the summit the previous year, to reach the summit around 4 p.m., two hours after the turn around time. Hansen had no energy left in him after the summit and was unable to make it past the South Summit, leaving both him and Hall stranded with no supplemental oxygen in an ever-worsening blizzard. Andy Harris had been with them, but both he and Hansen disappeared in the night and were presumed dead. Hall lasted another day, but his body was shutting down on him from the lack of oxygen in his system. He was too weak to move far on his own, and the rescue party that had been sent for his was forced to turn back when a second storm rolled in. His body was found 12 days later.

They were not the only ones trapped on the mountain during the impending blizzard. Scott Fischer was not far from them. Overcome with high altitude sickness, he collapsed, unable to go any further and died from exposure. Another group of clients from Adventure Consultants was lost on the mountain. Luckily, the guide Boukreev had been out in the blizzard looking for the lost clients. He happened to stumble upon them and was able to help most of them back the 200 feet to Camp IV. He left two members there as they were close to death and he could only help so many people at once. Another search party went back out to find the last two climbers, but decided that they were too far gone to help and left them for dead. One of the climbers, Weathers, left behind for dead, regained consciousness and miraculously walked back to the camp, even with his severe hypothermia and frostbite. He was helped down the mountain and rushed to a hospital where he would lose an arm, most of a hand, and his nose to the severe frostbite he had encountered.

In total, there were 12 casualties that season, five of which were from this group alone that night. It was considered one of the worst climbing years in history.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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