Storm Over Everest

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The 1996 ExpeditionClimbing EverestEverest Background & History



The 1996 Expedition
Into Thin Air

This is journalist and climber Jon Krakauer's September 1996 article in Outside magazine on the tragic expedition. The article was later expanded into a book. Krakauer was climbing with Rob Hall's team on assignment for Outside. His article provoked controversy, in particular his questioning of guide Anatoli Boukreev's actions during the expedition. Not long after, the magazine published here Krakauer's additional details and clarifications concerning the death of guide Andy Harris. And guide Anatoli Boukreev wrote an open letter responding to Krakauer's portrayal of him.

Outside has archived its original "base camp bulletins," which followed the Fischer expedition from March 22 to May 16, 1996, along with several follow-up pieces, including an interview with Jon Krakauer and a profile of Makalu Gau's ordeal. In a 2006 interview with Outside, Sandy Hill defended Anatoli Boukreev's decisions on Everest and attacked media portrayals of herself and the climb as a whole, saying that "most of what was reported in 1996 was prejudiced, sensationalist, and overblown -- thrilling fiction at best -- but not journalism."

Coming Down

This 1998 Salon.com article examines the public debate between Jon Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev -- who wrote a book, The Climb, in response to Krakauer's book -- and how that debate has been viewed in the climbing community. While "most of the big names have fallen in behind Krakauer," says the article, Boukreev, now deceased, was given an award for heroism by the Alpine Club and defended by Sandy Hill, whose life he saved. [Editor's Note: Over the past decade, the controversy has indeed continued over the accounts of the '96 tragedy as presented by Krakauer and Boukreev.]

Ed Viesturs on 1996: Turn Around, Guys!

Renowned climber Ed Viesturs was part of David Breashears' IMAX team in 1996, and here he recalls how the tragedy unfolded for those like him down at Base Camp, as he and his teammates spoke to their stranded friend, Rob Hall, by radio, unable to make a rescue effort. Viesturs walks readers through the Hall and Fischer expeditions, trying to come to the terms with the decisions they made. Describing his discovery of Scott Fischer's body after the climb, Viesturs writes: "I glanced around, then looked again at the body of my friend, frozen into the slope. I spoke aloud. 'Hey, Scott,' I said, 'how you doing?' Only the sound of the wind answered me. 'What happened, man?'"

Beck Weathers Interview: What Price is Paid?

Beck Weathers discusses what he learned about himself on the mountain, and why he feels that, "if I knew exactly what was going to happen to me on that mountain, every horrific moment and the aftermath of trying to claw your way back out of that hole once you get back, I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Lene Gammelgaard Interview

Gammelgaard recounts the '96 expedition, discussing Scott, Anatoli and how she dealt with both the tragedy of the climb and the "positive opportunities" she was able to draw from it. Describing the media coverage, Gammelgaard says: "I was kind of glad for a time that, as this little Danish person, I was totally forgotten. And that was good for me, because I'm not sure that I would have been able to survive, emotionally, all the beatings that were going on over here."

Climbing Everest
National Geographic: Everest Cents

How much does it cost to climb Everest? This 2003 list breaks down the rough costs of transportation, permits and supplies -- plus a few surprising "hidden" costs.

EverestNews.com

A hub of updated news and information for Everest climbers and enthusiasts, EverestNews also has information for curious non-climbers, including a list of facts about the mountain and lesson plans for teachers on everything from Everest geology and the physiology of climbing to the peoples and history of Nepal.

Non-Physician Altitude Tutorial

A guide to acclimatization and altitude sickness compiled by the International Society for Mountain Medicine. The guide covers some of the altitude-related conditions mentioned in Storm Over Everest -- cerebral and pulmonary edema, and acute mountain sickness -- as well as recommendations for acclimatization, prevention and treatment.

Altitude Oxygen Calculator

This interactive graph allows you to track how much oxygen climbers lose as they ascend Mount Everest by entering an altitude value into the graph and pressing the tab key. For reference: Base Camp is at 5,350 meters, Camp Four is at 8,300 meters, and the summit is at 8,848 meters. The site also features tutorials on various topics related to altitude and altitude illnesses, including training and acclimatization.

Discovery Channel: The Effects of Altitude

For younger viewers: This animated feature explains the health threats that climbers face from altitude, exposure and harsh weather on the mountain.

MountainZone FAQ

Guide and Everest summiter David Hahn answers frequently asked questions about some the more practical aspects of climbing, such as food, clothing and training.

Mountain Madness: Everest

This site for the guiding company founded by Scott Fischer contains extensive information about its operations on Everest, including an itinerary, equipment checklist, and a breakdown of services for clients. Mountain Madness also maintains a memorial page for Scott.

Adventure Consultants: Everest

Guy Cotter now runs the company he formerly shared with Rob Hall, and here you can read about Adventure Constultants' expeditions to Everest, including an FAQ for prospective climbers and a "virtual tour" photo essay following one of the company's expeditions from Kathmandu to the summit.

Background and History of Mt. Everest
British Royal Geographical Society: Imaging Everest

Illustrated with historical photos by Sir Edmund Hillary and other explorers, this online exhibition tells the story of Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's successful 1953 summit attempt as well as the expeditions of the 1920s and 30s that led the way. Along with a slideshow of additional photos, the site also features information about Sherpas and the Nepalese and Tibetan peoples, and a historian's account of efforts to survey the height of "The Highest Mountain in the World," beginning in the 18th century.

NOVA: "Everest"

Begin this scientific tour of Everest with a look at the treacherous glacial structure of Everest's Khumbu Icefall and an animated explanation of how the Himalayas were formed by the collision of India and Asia. You can also compare the equipment used by mountaineers in the 1920s to that of modern climbers, read about the history and culture surrounding the mountain, and see 360-degree panoramic views from the summit and the camps approaching it (Quicktime required). Also, take a look at a scientist's explanation of the physiological mysteries raised by climbers who ascend Everest without supplementary oxygen -- a feat once thought to be impossible.

NPR Radio Expedition: "Everest: To the Top of the World"

In this 2003 broadcast, then-83-year-old Sir Edmund Hillary, his son Peter and Tenzing Norgay's son, Jamling, discuss their experiences of Everest. Peter and Jamling had returned to Everest in 2002 to honor the 50th anniversary of their fathers' summit -- but while Peter climbed, Jamling, who witnessed the 1996 tragedy as part of David Breashears' IMAX crew, stayed at Base Camp in keeping with a promise to his family that he would never again climb the mountain.

Sir Edmund Hillary Interview

You can read, hear or watch this 1991 interview with Sir Edmund Hillary, in which he discusses the 1953 expedition, the "restless" early life that led him to the mountains, and how this self-described "very mediocre person" was able to lead the first successful summit attempt.

Everest History Timeline

This timeline, compiled by EverestNews.com, follows the conquest of Everest from Sir George Everest's 1841 recording of the mountain's location, to 2001, when Marco Siffredi became the first person to snowboard from the summit to advanced base camp, up to the present.

Everest: The Sherpas and Edmund Hillary

This National Geographic multimedia presentation examines the culture of the Sherpas, their relationship to the mountain and how visiting climbers have changed that relationship for better and for worse -- from Sir Edmund Hillary's philanthropic work in the Sherpa community to the environmental ravages of deforestation.

The Himalaya by the Numbers

An extensive statistical analysis by the American Alpine Club that follows trends in climbing through the Himalayas. The 166-page report covers the annual number of climbers, summits, deaths and other details -- organized by peak, time of year, and climber demographics. [Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat required]

home . introduction . interactive map . the survivors' stories . join the discussion . a talk with filmmaker david breashears
blog: everest summit attempt . producer's notebook . readings & links . live chat with producer david breashears . roundtable: the ethics of climbing
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posted may 13, 2008

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