“Inside the 1996 Everest Disaster”

Posted on November 23, 2010


Pictured above: Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air, the first-hand account of the catastrophic 1996 Everest expedition in which nearly ten climbers perished. The work provides an exhaustive account of the expedition and aims to clarify statements and inaccurate details that were hastily published by adventure magazine Outside. The publication’s original intent was to portray the commercialization of Everest.

The video below is of Ken Kamler, a renowned physician, narrating a slideshow regarding his experiences during the 1996 Everest disaster.

Kamler discusses the logistics faced by climbers on the Southeast ridge (6:55):

If you fall to your left

you fall 8,000 feet into Nepal

If you fall to your right

you fall 12,000 feet into Tibet

So, uh,

it’s probably better to fall into Tibet cause you’ll live a little longer

but either way you fall for the rest of your life, so…

In Into Thin Air, Krakauer relates his astonishment when he finds Beck Weathers (13:22) in his tent, the morning after he stumbled into camp, a veritable corpsicle:

…I braced myself to make one last visit to Beck, whom I assumed had died in the night. I located his tent, which had been blasted flat by the hurricane, and saw that both doors were wide open. When I peered inside, however, I was shocked to discover that Beck was still alive.

He was lying on his back across the floor of the collapsed shelter, shivering convulsively. His face was hideously swollen; splotches of deep, ink-black frostbite covered his nose and cheeks. The storm had blown both sleeping bags from his body, leaving him exposed to the subzero wind, and with his frozen hands he’d been powerless to pull the bags back over himself or zip the tent closed. ‘Jesus Fucking Christ!’ he wailed when he saw me, his features twisted into a rictus of agony and desperation. ‘What’s a guy have to do to get a little help around here!’ He’d been screaming for help for two or three hours, but the storm had smothered his cries (320-1).

Emergency whistles, who needs ’em?

I can’t find literature on whether Beck had a whistle or not. I’d appreciate it if any of you wordpress lurkers would chime in. But I know you dumb bastards won’t.

IMAX Everest also failed to mention this little detail in the story, but it’s still enjoyable in its family-oriented wholesomeness. (Info. on Beck comes in at around 5:45.)

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