Storm Over Everest


Storm Over Everest


Jocelyn Pook

McDonald Brown

Callie Taintor

David Breashears

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE: From the rooftop of the world comes the story that changed the perception of Everest forever.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN, Guide, Scott's Team: You feel your body start to come alive, and you're climbing Mt. Everest.

ANNOUNCER: Three teams of climbers-

LOU KASISCHKE, Rob's Team: Few people have stood here looking out over this fantastic sight.

ANNOUNCER: -an unexpected storm-

GUY COTTER, Pumori Base Camp: It was a very black wall of clouds coming in low.

LOU KASISCHKE: One minute, we could look down and we could see the camp below. And the next minute, you couldn't see it.

ANNOUNCER: -and a journey that would test them all physically and emotionally.

LOU KASISCHKE: Rob wasn't leaving Doug. I don't think it's possible to get somebody who's incapacitated down the Hillary Step.

GUY COTTER: The rescue that would save his life was no longer coming.

BECK WEATHERS, Rob's Team: The storm, the wind, the snow, the cold- everything is just crescendoing. I don't want to die. I don't want to die.

HELEN WILTON: If you're stuck up there, you might as well be on the moon.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, Storm Over Everest.

DAVID BREASHEARS: [voice-over] For over 25 years, I've been making the journey to Mount Everest. I've stood on its summit five times. The mountain has given me great joy and close friendships. It's also been a place of hardship and tragedy.

In 1996, a fast-moving storm trapped climbers high on the mountain and people died. Stories were told forever changing the world's perception, and my own, about climbing Everest.

Now I've come back to Base Camp alone to remember and to reflect on what it was like to be here on this mountain 10 years ago. We were all gathered at the mountain's base that year. We'd come with a common goal. I shared their energy, optimism and desire, all those hopes, all those dreams.

But most of all, I remember the climbers and friends caught in that storm. This is their story.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN, Guide, Scott's Team: When we left Base Camp, we were all wary, of course, of mighty Everest in front of us. But this was it. This was our chance. So we took off and it was a great feeling.

BECK WEATHERS, Rob's Team: Nobody can go there without thinking, "This is way cool, just to be able to climb on this thing." Just that idea that you're actually going to put your feet on Everest, I don't care whether you're a climber or you're not a climber, that's big stuff. That's exciting.

JOHN TASKE, Rob's Team: We went two thirds of the way through the Icefall, and I was hooked. It was the most spectacular piece of real estate that I'd ever climbed on. It helps you to put yourself in perspective with what life's all about.

LENE GAMMELGAARD, Scott's Team: I got through the Icefall and started crying. And I thought, "Well, I'm probably hyperventilating because I'm really, really tired." And then I realized that I was beginning to cry because it was so amazing. It's just so beautiful.

DAVID BREASHEARS: I remember seeing them coming up the western Cwm. It was May 8th. I was already on the mountain. We'd set out a day ahead of the other teams, climbing up the Lhotse Face on our way to the summit. I was leading the Imax film team, but we'd been held up by high winds and I was worried about the conditions higher up. We needed clear weather for filming.

Looking down from Camp Three, we could see them climbing towards us. The mountain suddenly seemed crowded. We decided to go down and wait.

On the way down, I met an old friend who was leading one of the expeditions, the New Zealander Rob Hall. We talked about the weather. I took his picture.

Further down, I met another friend who I'd known since we were young climbers in Colorado. Scott Fischer was leading his team of clients. The day before, he'd taken a sick climber down to Base Camp. It was good to see him, but he seemed tired.

The next day, I watched as Scott and all the others began the step ascent to Camp Four on the South Col.

[ Explore a map of the mountain]

SANDY HILL, Scott's Team: When you leave Camp Three on the Lhotse Face, it's the first time that you can actually see the summit. Your goal is visible. And that's very thrilling. What blind faith it's been this whole time, climbing this far without having your goal in front of you.

LOU KASISCHKE, Rob's Team: My very first view of Everest, it was a long moment and a big, hard swallow. And the thought was, "I'm not so sure whether I can do this."

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Leaving Camp Three, we donned our down suits for the first time and definitely could feel the altitude and the strenuousness of the climb. You know, climbing above 24,000 and into 25,000 feet is really hard. It's- I don't care who you are, it really is. It's challenging. It's hard work.

SANDY HILL: This was the first time that I remember registering the air is much, much thinner here than anywhere else I've ever been.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Earlier that morning, there'd been an accident at Camp Three. A Taiwanese climber had slipped and fallen into a crevasse, but he assured his teammates he was OK and would rest before going higher.

MAKALU GAU, Taiwanese Team: [subtitles] As we left Camp Three, Chen stayed behind to recover. He would wait a couple hours and catch up with us at Camp Four.

BECK WEATHERS: You move out of an area that seems familiar. There is this sense of a desolate place. It's kind of like moving into Golgotha. This is a barren, hard, inhospitable, cold- and I don't mean that in temperature, I mean that in just the sense of heaviness about the place.

DAVID BREASHEARS: In the afternoon, we got a radio call. The Taiwanese climber's health had deteriorated. The Sherpas were bringing him down, and they asked us to help.

We climbed fast up the Lhotse Face, but by the time we reached him, Chen was dead. The Sherpas, superstitious about death on the mountain, wanted us to bring the body down.

Chen's close friend and team leader, Makalu Gau, had just arrived at Camp Four on the South Col.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] David called to tell me Chen was dead. I was shocked. All I could say was, "Thank you"

DAVID BREASHEARS: Sitting at Base Camp all these years later, I can still remember my reaction, how upset I was by his response and his decision not to come down.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] Chen had wanted to reach the top more than anyone on our team. When he died, I felt I had no choice but to keep climbing. I must finish his goal for him.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Only now, after hearing his story, do I know why he decided to go on how little I understood about what it was like to be high on this mountain over the next few days.

BECK WEATHERS: The weather was so crummy that when we first got in there, I didn't think there was any chance that we were going to climb that night.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: In our tents at Camp Four that night, it was living hell. It was absolutely crazy.

LOU KASISCHKE: It was bad weather, and the concern was, "Well, what if it's like this tomorrow?"

BECK WEATHERS: We thought, "We may have struggled all the way up here, and if this keeps up at all, then the whole crowd is just going to get to head back down and the party's over."

CHARLOTTE FOX, Scott's Team: About 8:00 o'clock, the wind died off, and so we were able to snatch a little sleep, as much as you can up there. You just are basically listening to your heartbeat and thinking, "Wow, the day has come. I can't believe it."

LOU KASISCHKE: "Get ready. Be ready, 11:00 o'clock, we're going." I still remember looking at the faces of the other people. Doug thought it was a bad idea. You could just tell it in his eyes that he didn't want to go.

CHARLOTTE FOX: You had a little cover over your head, a little skullcap, and then you've got this massive thing like this. And you're trying to get your goggles adjusted just right. And meanwhile, you can't see to put your gloves on. And you've got your straps, "Oh, gosh, I got the crampons on the wrong feet. I'll be there in a minute!"

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] There was a good chance for me to reach the top. I was ready to go.

BECK WEATHERS: You get out, you stand up, and it's a different world than the one you saw when you came in because the night is gorgeous. The wind is still. You can see more stars than you ever dreamed that a place could have, and they're so close to you that you feel like you can touch them.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: In front of us is this great silhouette, the blackness of Everest. And the Milky Way was just on fire. It was like a row of lights above us.

SANDY HILL: It was a vast open sky, but there on the mountain, I could see the headlamps of Rob Hall's team, and I was worried that we might be behind before we'd even started.

BECK WEATHERS: When you climb at night, much more so than the day, you feel like you're alone. And as you look up and you look down, you don't see the vistas. You see these little cones scattered along in a line of the people that are all strung out as part of this silent progression of individuals, each one in their own world, separated from everyone else on their team, separated from everyone else on earth.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: You start to get in rhythm with your oxygen. You get your headlight adjusted just right and jiggle your pack around. And you feel your body start to come alive and the blood flowing. And you know, you're climbing Mt. Everest. It's a pretty cool feeling.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] I was climbing with three Sherpas. They had all reached the summit of Everest before. One in front of me, two behind me. I felt safe. We were a strong team.

CHARLOTTE FOX: Right before the Balcony, which was several hours out, after going up fixed ropes in the dark, you started to see a little light out to the east.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Within a few steps, you just walk right up into the sunlight and everything changes. You can see what appears to be a thousand miles out across the Tibetan plains. The sun is now over the horizon and just glittering off of the glaciers thousands and thousands of feet below you. It's an amazing experience, and you know why you're climbing Mount Everest at that moment.

CHARLOTTE FOX: You look across at all these other peaks that were always way above you, and now they're tiny. They're like waves in the ocean.

LOU KASISCHKE: And you know that few people have stood here looking out over this fantastic sight.

DAVID BREASHEARS: By dawn, the teams were just below the southeast ridge at 27,600 feet. It'd been five weeks since they'd first arrived at Base Camp. Each team was its own small world. The clients were paying their way, and the professional guides like Rob and Scott promised access to a dream.

HELEN WILTON, Base Camp Manager, Rob's Team: I felt like a part of something great. I really- I really think that to do something with people for a common purpose is a wonderful thing, and to help people to achieve their dreams is something that caught me, as well. So much emotion and experiences and demands of you happen in such a short space of time, six weeks of intensive living. I never thought I'd ever do this in my life.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I think everybody has a place in themselves that mountains can fill. Mountains carry great respect with people around the world, so it doesn't surprise me at all that many people use mountains to find this. That's what I did myself.

BECK WEATHERS: I'd spent most of my adult life in profound depression, and I John Wayne'd it, so that I never let anybody know about it. And I discovered that if you drove your body hard, when you did that, you couldn't think. And that lack of thinking, as you punished your body and drove yourself, was amazingly pleasant.

SANDY HILL: Other people, when they have- when their life is at a difficult spot, turn to drugs or drink or credit cards. I go to the mountains. That's always worked for me.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: As long as I, or human beings, believe that by doing something, the world is going to change - by doing this, I'm going to be more happy, by doing that, I'm going to be more successful, by doing this, people are going to love me more - then I think there will be this fantastic drive behind it.

[ More on why they climb]

CHARLOTTE FOX: Now that we could see the summit, you're just pulled in. You've gone so far up the mountain, you've come so far from home, and you spent six months preparing for this goal, there's no way you're going to turn around unless things are really going south.

DAVID BREASHEARS: They'd been climbing hard since midnight. It's vital to get to the summit and back to Camp Four before nightfall.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I felt very comfortable with the situation. We were inside of our turnaround time. The weather's still good. There were certainly some delays that were unexpected, but that's how climbing is.

BECK WEATHERS: By the time that I get up to the Balcony, I realized that I pretty much was out of the game. My right eye was not really usable because it was blurred over, and my left eye wasn't good enough yet that I felt comfortable going forward.

And so when I told Rob this, he volunteered to send me down with a couple of the Sherpa. I'd just climbed all night to get to this place. I didn't want to go. He said, "Beck, I want you to promise me that you're going to stay here until I come back." And I said, "Rob, cross my heart, hope to die, I'm sticking." And it never, ever crossed my mind that he'd never come back.

LOU KASISCHKE: Beck had a problem, and it was too bad. I didn't even think that much about that because, you know, a lot of things happen and it could have been me. It could have been anybody. It was sort of, like, "Tough break. And see you later."

CHARLOTTE FOX: Upon arriving at the South Summit, there are a few people there, and there seemed to be some confusion about ropes and who was going first, and were we using old fixed lines or did we have enough new line to string across the traverse to the Hillary Step?

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Anatoli and I tied into the rope together and trekked off towards the Hillary Step over this very beautiful and very delicate knife-edge ridge. And there was a steady enough wind that it would take the rope between us and hold it out in this big arc. It would hold itself out for maybe 10 or even 15 seconds at a time and then drop down. And like a sail, it would bulge out again.

CHARLOTTE FOX: It was definitely not a place that you wanted to fall. You had a rope to sort of guide you that was probably staked in pretty well, but the snow wasn't that great for holding stakes. And the fact that when you sunk your ice axe into the snow, you could look through the hole as you pulled it out and see Tibet, and over here you could see Nepal. So you wanted to be very careful about staying right on the border, so to speak. People were stacking up behind us like crazy, and I was feeling lucky to be one of the first people across.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: Lots and lots of people were so slow getting up the Hillary Step, and you sort of had to wait your turn in line before you could climb that piece of rock face. And loosing one hour just more or less standing still on a mountain, that is really the stupidest thing you can do because speed is the same as safety.

LOU KASISCHKE: I looked at my watch and I had a sick feeling inside of myself. This is the way I was feeling, I was feeling sick at that point because I knew- I knew it was impossible to get there by the 1:00 PM turnaround time.

JOHN TASKE: And I thought, "If I keep going now, I'll be out of oxygen, get to the summit, but I'll be coming back down to the South Col in the dark and without oxygen and more tired than I am now." The risks were escalating.

LOU KASISCHKE: My heart was beating so hard, I felt like it was going to jump right out of my chest. I was almost shaking as I was struggling inside of myself with, "What am I going to do? Am I going to keep going because I'm so close, or am I going to turn around?"

JOHN TASKE: At that stage, Rob came up past me. And I said to him, "Rob, I'm going down." And I could even see behind his oxygen mask, he was visibly disappointed, probably for me because he loved to get people to achieve their goal of getting to the top. But he said, "It's your call, pal." Didn't say "mate," like an Australian. "It's your call, pal. I'll see you back at the South Col." And that was the last time I saw Rob alive.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] In front of me, I saw many people climbing up the ropes. Wow! There were so many ropes! People looked like they were pulling and pulling, but they weren't going anywhere. I was at the back of the line, wondering why they were so slow.

CHARLOTTE FOX: And it's not difficult climbing by rock-climbing standards, but you have to imagine you've got these massive boots with little rock holds for your feet, massive mitten hands with little rock holds for your hands, and you're all puffy, like the Michelin person. And you're trying to execute these moves at 28,000, 29,000 feet, and an oxygen bottle and your pack. And it's just very awkward.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] Then it was my turn on the ropes. But when I tried, I felt so weak that I had to crawl. And the ropes were spinning. It was so difficult to climb. Then I understood why others had been so slow.

NIMA GOMBU, Taiwanese Team: [subtitles] We were late because the teams were mixed together and we were slow. The weather was also deteriorating. We had to wait at the Hillary Step. We lost a couple of hours there.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] Suddenly, I saw flags and people. People were posing for pictures. I realized that was the summit! It didn't look far. I knew I would reach the top today, no matter what, even if I crawled on my hands and knees.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I arrived at the summit at 1:25, and for about five minutes, I really enjoyed the summit of Mount Everest for myself. Then I started watching this stream of people come over the rise above the Hillary Step.

CHARLOTTE FOX: Finally, we came to one rise. And I looked to the next, and there were a group of people on top. And I knew that was it.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: In any other circumstance, you would think that somebody could cover that distance in 10 or 15 minutes. But it took some of these people much, much longer than that.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: It's not very far, but it's just so hard. And even though there are not that many paces, it just takes very, very long time from there to actually get to the summit.

CHARLOTTE FOX: And soon enough, we were joining the celebration up there, looking down the north side, and looking down the west and the east and the south. And we could see it all. We were on the roof of the world.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: You can almost see the curvature of the Earth. I know you can't, but you can feel that you're up high enough that you're looking down on the sphere. All the hardships that you've gone through and all the discomfort you've been through is completely worth it at that moment.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: What I really felt was a massive, massive contentment and sort of a feeling of everything falling into place.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] At that moment, I was overwhelmed. Then I remembered I had to get a picture! I gave my camera to one of the Sherpas and asked him to take one.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: It was just this cluster of people. I couldn't believe how many were there. But everybody is perched onto this little ridge, so it just looked liked this sea of colors. It was hard to even recognize who was who out of all these colors.

CHARLOTTE FOX: It was my feeling that we celebrated a little too long. We were waiting for Scott to come up so we could descend as a team, but he was taking the longest time. And people were enjoying the day. The day was beautiful. There wasn't a cloud out there.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Finally, I was just, like, "We've got to go. It's getting late now. This is no more. We've got to go." So I remember walking back up to where everybody was, and you know, getting up close into everybody's face, each person's face that was there, and telling them, "Look, get yourself ready. We've got to go down now."

HELEN WILTON: When Rob called me from the summit at 2:30, it was those familiar words, "Base Camp, this is Everest summit." Oh, and he sounded sort of hale and hearty. He sounded really good. And he told us who had just started descending, and he said that Doug Hansen was- "He's just in sight." And he said as soon as Doug got up to him that they'd do a really quick turnaround, and he was intending to descend straight away. And I said, "What's the weather like?" And he said, "Cold and windy, cold and windy."

MICHAEL GROOM, Guide, Rob's Team: Rob and Yasuko and I, we stayed on the summit for an extra five or ten minutes and then took some photographs, and then Yasuko and I headed back down.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Yasuko Namba had just completed the seven summits. It had taken her 16 years, but she was now the second Japanese woman to climb the highest mountain on every continent.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: And then finally, we started descending. Getting down over the Hillary Step, I meet Scott, who's on the way up, and I sort of really hug him.

SANDY HILL: We high-fived. We hugged. And it was just obvious from his movement that he was intending to continue going up.

MICHAEL GROOM: The first thing I noticed about Scott Fischer was just how badly he was traveling. Of all the people I saw that day moving up and down the mountain, he was the most unlikely person to be in that situation, still going up the mountain.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Now hours behind schedule, 14 climbers were still high on the mountain. At the summit, Rob Hall waited for his client, Doug Hansen.

NORBU, Rob's Team: [subtitles] Ang Dorjee, Rob Hall and I waited at the top for an hour, but Doug never arrived. Finally, we all went down to meet Doug.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Doug Hansen was a postal worker from Seattle. The year before, also climbing with Rob Hall, he'd collapsed at the South Summit and had to be helped down. He'd worked two jobs to save enough money to return to Everest. Finally, he was almost there.

ANG DORJEE, Rob's Team: I was in front of Rob Hall. I told Doug Hansen, "OK, it's late. It's now bad weather. We're going to go down." But Doug Hansen, he didn't talk to me. He just shake his head, and then he's pointing his finger at the summit.

NORBU: [subtitles] Ang Dorjee and I offered to take Doug up ourselves.

ANG DORJEE: Rob told me, "OK, I don't want to leave clients behind. You guys go ahead. You go ahead. Leave oxygen bottle at South Summit. Go down."

MICHAEL GROOM: From the South Summit, I recall looking back along this razorback ridge to the Hillary Step. I saw Rob Hall standing up and Doug Hansen leaning into the slope, resting on his ice axe. I remember giving the normal thumbs-up sign, like that, and I got the same response from the person I thought was Rob Hall. And it indicated to me that everything was OK and it was time to continue the descent.

CHARLOTTE FOX: We were headed down from the South Summit when I saw Sandy laying in the snow.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: There's this person in a yellow suit laying face down, head down the hill. And Charlotte- I recognize Charlotte standing above this person.

CHARLOTTE FOX: I'd try pulling her to her feet, and she was just a load of dead weight. She just- she couldn't go any further.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: She collapsed. She literally collapsed and there was absolutely no more power in her to move down.

CHARLOTTE FOX: And then I remembered I had that injection of dexamethasone, kept it warm inside my suit all this time, just in case something like this happened.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: She kind of gives me the nod as she's got basically both hands on the syringe, that, you know, "Is this the right thing to do?" And I'm, like, "Yeah, go for it."

CHARLOTTE FOX: So I unzipped the rainbow zipper to her rear end and knew she had layers of pile on, but that the needle would go right through that. And I just took a wing back and-

SANDY HILL: And she smiled this crazy, wonderful, maniacal smile and jammed the dex into my leg.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: There we also realized that Sandy was running out of oxygen.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I asked Lene to exchange bottles with Sandy, and she kind of looked at me, like, you know, "You're crazy. I'm not giving up my oxygen." And I certainly don't blame her for that. But I was, like, "Youve got to do this because you're walking right now and she is not."

CHARLOTTE FOX: From then, I believe Tim and I moved together and left Sandy with Neal. And we were just a little in front of the rest of the gang on our way down to the last fixed ropes.

LOU KASISCHKE: John Taske was just right in front of me. We basically came to the Balcony together, and there was Beck.

JOHN TASKE: So we said, "Beck, come on down with us." And Beck said, "No, no, I've basically given the word I'll wait for Rob. I'll stay here and wait for him."

BECK WEATHERS: They clearly wanted me to come down. But they didn't have the conversation with Rob. They did not promise Rob that you'd stay there.

JOHN TASKE: In good weather, that would have been obviously the right decision to make because Rob was more experienced. Rob had a rope so he could have short-roped Beck down. We'd have had all sorts of trouble.

LOU KASISCHKE: Beck said he felt more comfortable if we had a rope, and we didn't have a rope. And he said he thought he needed to be short-roped, and that was the end of it.

BECK WEATHERS: I could have gone down with them. And obviously, I should have. But I really didn't want the day to end, even then.

LOU KASISCHKE: There wasn't any sense of being left behind or abandoned or almost dying or anything happening at that point.

HELEN WILTON: When we got the 4:15 call, Rob was asking somebody else on our team, who may have just been below the South Summit, for more oxygen. And he was obviously with someone in trouble.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Rob was on the radio to one of his guides, Andy Harris, who was waiting for him at the South Summit.

MICHAEL GROOM: Rob was obviously distressed and concerned about something that was going on. There was something wrong.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Andy was last seen climbing back up the ridge to help Rob and Doug.

GUY COTTER, Pumori Base Camp: What really started to concern me at this point was that I started to see some bad weather coming in from down the valley. It was a very black wall of clouds coming from behind Towichi further down the valley, coming in low. Unlike a lot of storms that start high, this storm was coming quite low and it obviously was very fast moving, very intense. In a few minutes, I saw the mountains of Towichi disappear.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Down below, what was sort of benevolent puffy clouds has now got more of a sinister look to it. It's really- it's starting to look like it's, you know, a real storm, and we're walking right down into the storm.

DAVID BREASHEARS: The climbers nearing Camp Four on the South Col were the first to run into trouble.

JOHN TASKE: A rock came hurtling down the face and knocked Lou's glove from underneath the piece of rope, and it went cart-wheeling away with the wind. Following the rock, we didn't know who it was, but it was obviously Anatoli Boukreev racing down, who went straight past us without talking, heading off towards the tents on the South Col. At that moment, as I looked up and saw the tents, I could see the storm coming behind it.

LOU KASISCHKE: One minute, we could look down and we could see the camp below. And the next minute, you couldn't see it.

JOHN TASKE: Within the space of five minutes, it changed from really a good day with a little bit of wind to desperate conditions, something I'd never experienced the ferocity of before.

[ An interactive time-map of the drama]

MICHAEL GROOM: And then I came across Beck Weathers, which caught me completely by surprise because by this time, snow had started to fall very lightly. Beck had obviously been sitting very patiently and very still, completely covered in snow. And as he turned to me, all the snow fell off his climbing suit, and suddenly I could see it was someone in front of me. And I think he said, "Is that you, Mike?" And I said, "Yes." And I think he said, "Well, I've got a bit of a problem. I can't see."

BECK WEATHERS: So Mike put me on a short tether, and it was a good decision because I'm coming down and I do make some pretty good missteps. I put down and actually shift my weight onto the down foot, and it's nothing there.

MICHAEL GROOM: And then to my surprise, still in the gully, I came across Yasuko sitting in the snow, completely and utterly exhausted. So I really had my hands full now because here's Beck Weathers, who's totally blind, and Yasuko, who can't walk.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: There was no more thought who was on whose team. It was just people.

MICHAEL GROOM: Fortunately for me, Neal could see my dilemma and took over the control of Yasuko.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I could feel when I grabbed her at first, her arm was limp. But once we got her up and started walking, I could tell she was hanging on tighter because she had hope and she knew that she was heading down.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] After leaving the South Summit, the wind blew harder and the snow fell thicker. I realized we were not on the same trail that we had followed on the way up. We were just following footprints. At that time, the Sherpas started using their ice axes to find the trail.

NIMA GOMBU, Taiwanese Team: [subtitles] We said we'd find the ropes and then come back for him. We went farther and farther down but never found the ropes. We couldn't go back up for him, so we went to the tents.

DAVID BREASHEARS: The Sherpas never came back. They left Makalu Gau more than a thousand feet above Camp Four- alone.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] I sat and waited, wondering what to do. Then I heard something behind me and I saw a light. I looked back and saw Scott.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Scott soon collapsed on a ledge not far from Makalu Gau, too weak to descend further. Now both teams were without their leaders.

GUY COTTER, Pumori Base Camp: On the top of the Hillary Step, which is about as far away from anywhere in this world that you can get, Rob was in a situation where he had somebody incapacitated, that he could not pick this guy up and carry him. That's impossible up there.

HELEN WILTON: At 5:15, he called and he said that Doug was weak. And yes, I could tell things were very serious.

GUY COTTER: My feeling was that Rob should descend to the South Col and at least look after himself, to be in a position to effect a rescue the next day, as hard as that might be.

HELEN WILTON: When Guy was talking like this, I think Rob sounded a little annoyed that- you know, like Doug might be listening to this.

GUY COTTER: At the time, I was effectively being the devil's advocate. I mean, I was trying to give him the option to decide that what I was saying was a good idea. And he might have been thinking it in his own head but yet not being able to come up with that decision himself.

HELEN WILTON: I recorded at that time that it sounded like Rob wasn't leaving Doug, and that was kind of, like- we didn't hear for another 12 hours from Rob.

DAVID BREASHEARS: As darkness fell, the storm was nearing full force. It swept over the South Col, engulfing Camp Four.

LOU KASISCHKE: When I got back to camp, I crawled inside the tent. And the next thing I remember was the feeling like somebody was shoving me. But the thoughts were, "Why isn't anybody here? Why am I alone?" And I could hear nothing. I could hear nothing but the wind. It was the wind that was moving me around, was shoving me and pushing me. And it was terrifying.

I felt lonely. I wanted to say goodbye. I wanted to say "I love you" one more time. I didn't want to die alone. It was something that I never knew about myself would be important to me, to be dying separated from the people I love and who love me.

DAVID BREASHEARS: The storm, which began as a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, surprised everyone on the mountain as it surged higher, gaining in energy, power and ferocity, overwhelming the exhausted summit climbers as they searched for camp on the hard rocks and steep cliffs of the South Col.

[ An interview with David Breashears]

CHARLOTTE FOX: We would walk, thinking, "Wow, the wind's going to want to blow us toward the Kangshung Face, so let's overcompensate by going the other direction and we'll probably hit Base Camp."

BECK WEATHERS: And as you move further and you become more disoriented- and the entire time that you're doing this, the storm, the wind, the snow, the cold- everything is just moving. It's crescendoing. And now it's the noise level that's starting to overwhelm you, and you've got to yell at each other to be heard at all. And I don't know whether- we're getting a sense of just being led like sheep.

MICHAEL GROOM: And then we just became hopelessly lost. And I recall the ice and the snow stinging my face, freezing my eyelids together, to a point where I have to sort of break the ice off my eyelids to be able to see, and tripping over rocks on the South Col, picking up Beck when he did the same because he fell over quite a lot.

BECK WEATHERS: I had no idea where we were going. I knew enough, though, to keep track of Mike Groom's arm because I thought if I let go of him and I got three feet away, I wouldn't have any idea where anybody was.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: People who have all run out of oxygen, some of them really start collapsing. And those of us who are still able to walk try to sort of, you know, pick them up, make them keep walking. This is survival. And surviving in the mountain is to keep moving. Never, ever stop.

CHARLOTTE FOX: We all felt that camp was close, and we couldn't figure out why we had not stumbled upon it. We had passed discarded oxygen tanks, pots and pans, ripped fabric of tents. We knew we were right there.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: We could be 40 meters from the tents and people could die there, but there was no way that we could find our way back to the tents.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: On both sides of the South Col, it's this big, expansive flat. But at the edges, it becomes precipitously steep.

SANDY HILL: One side's the Kangshung Face, and the other side is straight down the steepest section on Everest on the Nepal side, so- and it was literally- it would have been walking off a cliff.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I just had this strong, strong feeling that we had to just stop and sit down and just wait for a little bit for the storm to abate before we made a decision we couldn't get out of.

BECK WEATHERS: We were beginning on a downward slope off the Kangshung Face. And Neal sensed this. I don't know how he did it. That's the reason Neal's a guide and I'm not. But he made that decision that we were going to stop. And then we start to come together, this odd lot of individuals, and we become the huddle.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Most of us knew nothing of what was happening that night. We knew only that many climbers were missing and that Rob and Doug were still high on the mountain, unable to get down.

HELEN WILTON: I don't think it's possible to get somebody who's incapacitated down the Hillary Step, let alone along the knife-edge ridge between the Hillary Step and the South Summit, let alone in a storm. Unless some sort of amazing thing happened and somebody came charging up with a pile of oxygen bottles, Rob was in really deep trouble with Doug.

BECK WEATHERS: As time passes, each one of us becomes more and more absorbed in our own world. You can know the other individuals are there, but you're beginning to lose that sense of contact with them. Charlotte says, "I don't care anymore. All I want to do is die." And Sandy is about to come unglued. "I don't want to die. I don't want to die. My face is freezing. My hands are freezing."

SANDY HILL: I remember thinking, "I don't want to die. I don't want to die here."

BECK WEATHERS: Yasuko was next to me, and I was pretty much trying to shove her and pummel her and try to keep it going. And at some point in there, though, I had this sense of just gently moving away. I wasn't giving up, I was just becoming unaware.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: We knew that going to sleep was the wrong thing to do, and it was too easy to do. You just suck yourself back, you draw yourself back as far as you could into your down suit hood and just close your eyes and take a few breaths, and it was too easy to want to let go.

CHARLOTTE FOX: And that was the point where I just said, "You know what? I don't know if I'm going to make it through the night. Maybe it's just easier to just go under that sleep before hypothermia takes you, and just go on and get it over with because this is too much."

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Certainly, these were real feelings that people were having. But it was, like, "Well, you know, we just can't go there." It's- you know, "We're going to be OK. We've just got to figure out how to get through the night." It's just about living hour by hour, minute by minute.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Makalu Gau was caught by the storm far above the climbers on the South Col. He was alone with Scott Fischer, who lay helpless only a few feet away.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] I told myself not to sleep and to keep moving, but it was very hard to do. I shouted to myself, "Makalu, don't sleep! Makalu, don't sleep!" I shouted so hard that my body shook.

I thought, "I should do disco. I should dance disco. I should move myself to keep warm." So I kept hitting myself and kicking my legs.

I moved around slowly. Suddenly, I touched something. It was big and cold. It was Scott Fischer! He was slumped down and groaning, "I'm sick. I'm sick." His voice was small and weak. I knew he needed help, but there was nothing I could do.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: This is a situation where people die. This was the real deal and there was no mistaking the danger of the situation that we were in. We were on knife's edge.

CHARLOTTE FOX: I could almost objectively watch what was happening to me. And that was fairly eerie, not so much as being an out-of-body experience, but monitoring myself for my downfall.

BECK WEATHERS: You're in this little, tiny world of incredible noise and cold. And you're going past- you're shivering and shaking uncontrollably, where you have no ability to stop your body from trying to generate enough heat. You can't get it to stop.

MICHAEL GROOM: I think it was Neal who spotted the upper slopes of Mt. Everest. And once he spotted them, he yelled out something and I saw the same sight. And quickly, like Neal, were able to figure out where we were in relation to Camp Four.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: I associated Camp Four and the tents as our salvation. If somehow we could just get there and alert people to our position, that to me was how the situation was going to go from extremely bad to better.

CHARLOTTE FOX: There was hope again to get up and walk back to camp. But I had already let myself get so cold, and mentally so detached, that every time I stood up, I just fell down. Finally, people had to keep moving and go save themselves.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Yasuko I had on my arm the entire time in the huddle. And when I grabbed her to try to stand her up, she kept falling to the ground. You know, I tried to drag her and help her along, but I couldn't do it.

SANDY HILL: Trying to get up, trying to get on your feet with a pack on your back on unstable ground and in the condition that I was in, was not possible in the amount of time that I needed to stay with Neal.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: We were staggering about like really drunk people, absolutely no resources left to even try to move. But as it was everybody's only chance of surviving, we did it anyway.

MICHAEL GROOM: And I tried to go with them, but I had Beck and Yasuko and I literally had- I think I had one person on each shoulder. But after 20 meters, Yasuko had fallen over twice. And it was just a hopeless situation.

CHARLOTTE FOX: So everyone moved off, and though we tried a few times to get going, and we could see people getting further and further away from us. I remember Lene on Klev's arm, shuffling along slowly but moving, and me wanting to be with her but just not able to physically go.

DAVID BREASHEARS: We'll never know what happened to Rob that night. It must have been a desperate struggle as he tried to move Doug along that ridge only a few feet at a time, so far from the safety of camp.

And what happened to Doug? Did he still have enough life in him to reach out to Rob and say, "Don't leave me," or did Doug ever look at Rob and say, "Rob, just go. Save yourself"? And where was Andy Harris?

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: We were so lucky that the direction that we went in led us to Camp Four because we could have missed the tents by, you know, just a few degrees and kept walking past. We could have been wandering on the South Col forever.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: Eventually, we sort of just staggered into the tents and more or less collapsed.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: Anatoli was, like, "Where's Scott?" He kept asking, "Where's Scott?" And I remember telling Anatoli that he wasn't with us. "No Scott, not here, not here. But people." And I remember turning around and pointing.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Anatoli Boukreev, a strong Russian climber, was one of Scott Fischer's guides. He'd climbed to the summit without bottled oxygen and had descended to Camp Four on the South Col hours ahead of his teammates.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: Anatoli gathered some thermos with hot tea, whatever could be utilized to really revive people for at least a little while. And then he set out into the snowstorm.

NEAL BEIDLEMAN: And at that point, I really felt like I had passed this baton to Anatoli. And I just assumed that this same set of actions was happening for Rob's team and that Yasuko and Beck would make it back, as well.

CHARLOTTE FOX: There was certainly a great deal of hope when I saw the group move off towards the tents. That meant that somebody would know where the rest of us were. Surely, someone would come out and find us.

BECK WEATHERS: That clearly was what needed to be done. I thought, "It's not going to be very long. We'll have help come back out here, and we'll be back in the tents. It couldn't be more than half an hour, and folks'll be back."

SANDY HILL: We could see a headlamp coming vaguely in our direction, but certainly not striding purposefully. But it was a light, and with a light was a glimmer of hope. And soon it became clear that it was Anatoli.

CHARLOTTE FOX: He just grabbed me and said, "I'll be back" for the rest of the group, and Sandy and Tim. And he hooked arms with me, and assisted me to my feet and we started to walk back. I tried once again to sit down every few feet and rest, but he told me not to do that, that that was impossible, we had to keep moving.

Finally, I came into a tent, and there was Neal with a huge, hot, hot, hot cup of tea. And I remember him handing it to me, and I couldn't hold it because my hands were shaking so violently that he had to feed me the first few sips. And then I could put my hands around that cup and warm them enough to be able to stop shaking as much and drink myself.

SANDY HILL: Anatoli had promised me that he would be right back. At a certain point, I lost hope that he was going to come back because it seemed like it was taking so long. It was a glorious sight, seeing that little tiny headlamp in the distance, growing larger and coming closer to us. He came back.

LENE GAMMELGAARD: Anatoli spent the whole night trying to rescue those people. He would have wanted to bring back both Beck and Yasuko at that point, but if he had done that, he probably would have died himself.

BECK WEATHERS: The last part being there, I couldn't see anybody. I could still feel somebody next to me, and I remember thinking it was probably Yasuko. At that point, there was no pain left. There was just a sense of just this detachment and calm. And I didn't feel uncomfortable. I didn't- nothing hurt. It just was sliding away, gradually fading to black.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] I am really going to die here. I had tried everything to stay alive, but it wasn't working. I had to face death. It made me so sad. I didn't want to die, not here, not like this.

When I turned to my left, I saw a faint light. It was a strange light. It looked blue, white and red. I panicked and turned away. I was afraid these were the lights you see on the way to hell. After a few seconds, I rolled back. Although it wasn't very bright, I thought it might be dawn. I told myself, "You have to keep going until the sun comes up because when the sun comes up, then you will have a chance to live."

HELEN WILTON: When Rob called in the morning, I scrambled out of my sleeping bag and I just remember climbing over bodies to get to the radio. I just had to get there. And I picked up the radio and I said, "Rob, where are you?" I was really hoping he was going to say South Col. And he said, "I'm at the South Summit." And my heart just hit the floor. Rob once said that if you're stuck up there, you might as well be on the moon.

GUY COTTER: Rob called, saying he couldn't move and "Come and get me." And when we asked Rob about Doug, all Rob could say was that Doug is gone. At that stage, he asked about Andy Harris. He said, "Andy was with me last night. Does anybody know where he is?"

ANG DORJEE: In the morning, we went through looking for Namba and Beck, and 350 or 400 meter from South Col, Beck was lying down. I pick up Yasuko Namba, but she wasn't respond to me. And then I told them, "OK, Namba is dead here. You guys go down. Look Beck."

NORBU: [subtitles] When they found Beck, his cheek was stuck to the snow. They couldn't see his face and thought he was dead.

ANG DORJEE: They went down, they look, they thought totally not moving. They told me same like Namba, he's total lie down.

DAVID BREASHEARS: At Base Camp, they called the United States and told Beck's wife that her husband was dead.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] I heard someone calling me. I could hear it, but my eyes were frozen shut. It was like a dream. Then they gave me oxygen. I took a deep breath and cold air rushed into my body.

NGAWANG SYA KYA, Scott's Team: [subtitles] Makalu kept moving, so he wasn't frozen. Scott froze because he stopped moving.

TASHI TSERI, Scott's Team: [subtitles] When we found Scott, he was sitting with his down suit open. We rubbed his hands, but we couldn't get him to respond. We opened his eyes, but still got no response.

NGAWANG SYA KYA: [subtitles] I hoped Scott would live, but his condition was serious. Makalu was alive.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] I had no feeling in my hands. They were just like frozen pork. When they hit each other, they made a sound like "clack, clack."

NGAWANG SYA KYA: [subtitles] I gave soup to the Taiwanese climber. He was very grateful. I told him to come down slowly.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] As I was leaving, I saw two Sherpas with Scott Fischer. They were kneeling beside him, giving him CPR, but I didn't know if they were able to save him or not. At that time, my thinking was clouded. I followed my Sherpa step by step back to the South Col.

GUY COTTER: During the morning, the winds became so strong. The Sherpas tried their hardest to get to Rob. They had to turn around somewhere up on the southeast ridge. There came a point that they realized it was too dangerous for them to continue.

ANG DORJEE: It was still blowing and hard to see, hard to find the path. We both decide we may not reach there or we may- something going to be happen for us, too.

GUY COTTER: They were very upset that they had not been able to get up to Rob. They tried their hardest, but these guys were very exhausted.

ANG DORJEE: I was so sad. I came all the way up there to help Rob, but I didn't met him. I have to return, close to by him.

HELEN WILTON: They were about a hundred vertical meters below him, and they had to turn around. And they left some tea in the hope that Rob might possibly get to it. But when I heard that news, I was in tears, and Guy had to speak and tell Rob.

GUY COTTER: That was a very hard call to make, to have to tell your friend and long-time climbing partner that the rescue that would save his life was no longer coming.

ANG DORJEE: Nobody can come that day. It's already late. He has been out already one night he spent outside there. And then, yeah, I already thought when we left, he's going to die.

MICHAEL GROOM: I was now the person responsible for the survival of the team. And I was certainly in no condition to even mount a rescue for those who were still outside or get the survivors of our team down to safer ground.

JOHN TASKE: The decision to leave Beck and Yasuko where they were was not really a difficult decision, with probably partly my medical background but also what we'd been through the night before. This was horrific to see Mike come in very close to death. My estimate would have been half an hour and Mike would not have been able to move. And here were these other people exposed to phenomenal winds, at least 80 miles an hour, 20, 30 below zero all night. We thought it was kinder to leave them rather than cause them pain, even in a semi-conscious state, by dragging them over to where we were. They were basically dead.

BECK WEATHERS: When I initially began to come around, I thought I was in my own bed. It was pleasant. It was warm. I was not the least bit uncomfortable. There was nothing to hurt because all the parts that were exposed were dead, and dead flesh doesn't hurt. And it wasn't until I got far enough along that I opened my eyes and could see the ice in front of my face, and then I managed to look over and I saw the claw that was my frozen hand, that I really- at that point, I knew exactly that I was somewhere on that Col, somewhere on that mountain. I was on my own. I was as good as dead.

Then I saw my wife and children just directly in front of me. That's what drove me. And that got me up. And that got me moving. I fell down a bunch of times. I was just trying to keep from going in circles.

I remember one thing that was pretty unsettling. I can see the sun, not the rest of the stuff around, but I can see that big yellow ball up there. And I'm looking at it and it's about there, as I'm looking above the horizon. And as you well know, when that sun goes down, the place changes rather dramatically from something which is survivable to something which is just horror on earth.

I'm shuffling along, aware that I'm hallucinating. And as I was getting closer to these blue objects, I'm really not aware yet that these blue things are the tents. It rolls through that they might be, but I don't really know that. And it's only when somebody stands up in front of me and we look at each other over one of these blue rocks, do I realize that I'm back. I'm in the tent, I'm in a sleeping bag, and they know that I'm here.

GUY COTTER: An hour before dark, I radioed Rob to tell him that his wife, Jan, was calling from New Zealand on the satellite telephone at Base Camp and that I was going to patch him through to her. And he said, "Hold on a minute, mate. I've just got to put some snow in my mouth to moisten it. I'm a bit dry," before he could talk to her, which, you know, was Rob just wanting to make sure that when he did talk to Jan, that he came across sounding good and probably to reassure her that he was OK and this was just a bit of a fix, but he was going to get his way out of it.

HELEN WILTON: And I guess nobody wanted to admit it to themselves that it was going to be their last call. It was something that was just never said. And as I put the call through and held the microphone of the radio against the satellite phone, I was almost doubled up, holding my hands up with the phone, because I was crying so much. And I felt that in some ways, I- you know, it was terrible to be doing, it was a terrible thing, as well as a really good thing.

It nearly broke my heart, but I was glad that I could do that for them. And every time he spoke to Jan, he lifted. And so that's the most important thing I think I've ever done.

JOHN TASKE: On the second night, the winds blew up even more than the first night. And at one stage, the moorings that were holding the tent to the rocks started to give. I didn't realize that Beck was alive. And what surprised me more was when I heard that the whole night, he had been in a tent no more than 10 feet from where I was.

BECK WEATHERS: During the night, I woke up and realized that I was completely alone. And I'm incredibly thirsty. So I call out enough until finally, one of the Sherpa comes over and he has a thing of hot tea. He's right outside the door of the tent. And I try to get him to come into the tent, and he won't come in. We sit and stare at each other for a while. I can't get out, and he's not coming in. And eventually, he wanders off. I think there was something about me that had an air of death.

[ Watch this program again on line]

GUY COTTER: On the morning of the 12th, I tried to raise Rob on the radio from Base Camp, but there was no response. We tried repeatedly through the day. We were monitoring the radio. But we didn't hear from Rob again. There were so many people needing assistance and help from South Col that there was just no possible way to initiate another rescue effort.

LOU KASISCHKE: In the morning of the 12th, still laying there, thinking about what we're going to do, Mike Groom unzipped the door of the tent and said, "We've got to get out of here." "Hey Mike, how're you doing? Boy, good to see you." You know, I thought Mike was gone. But all of a sudden, Mike made a miraculous survival and he's back. And he said, "Twenty minutes, we're going."

MICHAEL GROOM: I did the rounds of the tents and said, "We're going to leave in half an hour. Make sure you've got your oxygen and whatever personal belongings you want to take back to Base Camp and be ready to leave in half an hour time."

And I passed one tent, and what caught my eye was the fact that the front door was open and the back door was open and a pair of climbing boots sticking out the end of the tent. And I really didn't think much of it except to think, "Well, that's one unfortunate person that didn't survive last night." And because- I didn't recognize the person because on the upper part of their body, there was a sleeping bag draped loosely over the upper part of their body and the head, which you know, you sometimes do with a dead body.

And people have asked me, well, why didn't I look to see who was underneath it? But I've seen enough dead bodies in my life not to want to have to do that. So I just dismissed it as someone who didn't survive the night. But I didn't know at the time that that was actually Beck Weathers.

DAVID BREASHEARS: No one had told him that Beck had come back. Beck had been put in a tent alone, left for dead once again.

BECK WEATHERS: I really don't know what the time is. I've lost sense of how much time has passed. It's daylight. I'm yelling out to try to get some connection again, some attention, to see another person. That's what I really wanted.

DAVID BREASHEARS: Incredibly, one of the last people leaving camp heard Beck calling out. The news traveled down the mountain. The man everyone thought was dead was coming down.

JOHN TASKE: After descending the Lhotse Face, I came across David Breashears, who was holding out a water bottle to me. And as I was drinking, he said, "You know, Beck's alive." You could have slapped me in the face and not surprised me as much as that. And I uttered some expletive deleted and said, "That's not true." And he said, "Have a look for yourself." And I looked up across the Lhotse Face towards the Geneva Spur, and there were two people helping this fellow down in a suit which was obviously Beck's suit.

BECK WEATHERS: I was alive again. I was coming back. Even if I just fell apart at this point, I was going to get off the mountain. And the hardest part, the dangerous part, the part where you're going to get wounded, is all behind you. And now it's simply a matter of getting home.

LOU KASISCHKE: For days, people have been dying all around me, and I'm having no emotion. My emotions were as frozen as my body almost. But what's in fact happening is they're all storing up inside of me for this moment. It wasn't until I got through the very last section of the Icefall and I could see people up ahead from our Base Camp, and I sat down and I cried and cried and cried. I'd never cried like that in my whole life, I don't think.

JOHN TASKE: When we got down to the Base Camp and I walked in for the first meal into the mess tent, that was probably the second biggest shock. The enormity of it all hit me in one fell swoop, looking around and seeing all these spaces. Half of the people that I knew weren't there anymore.

HELEN WILTON: That leaving was so hard, and I remember being so slow, as I couldn't stop turning around to look. It was so hard to turn your back on the mountain with- with Rob and Andy and Doug and Yasuko and Scott Fischer all lying up there.

MAKALU GAU: [subtitles] If I had known the cost of climbing Mount Everest, that it would cost my fingers, my nose, my toes, I would not have done it. I would never have imagined it could be worth it. I carefully prepared for this climb. I was both physically and mentally ready. Unexpected things happened, things I could not anticipate. Now I accept the price.

BECK WEATHERS: Everybody always says that the definition of character is what you do when nobody's looking. And when we were up there, we didn't think anybody was looking, and so everybody did pretty much what their inner person, the real them, the exposed them, would do. And some individuals come out of that, I think, justly proud of their actions. Others would probably never want anybody to know.

I was fortunate I got to be witness to those acts, the good ones, the bad ones. And the individuals that came through, that did well, that were selfless, I mean, they- every one of those people, every one of them, is to me a hero, even if nobody knows that.

DAVID BREASHEARS: For as long as people are drawn to Everest, this line of memorials will continue to grow. The mountain doesn't care whether we're here or not. It doesn't compete with us. It isn't burdened by our hopes and dreams.

Everything it means to us is only what we bring to it. It's what the mountain reveals about us that has any lasting value.

[The bodies of Doug Hansen and Andy Harris were never found. Anatoli Boukreev died in October 1997 in an avalanche while climbing in the Himalayas.]


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Cambridge Television Productions
Chetin Chabuk
Jane Courage
Juliane Dunkel
DVD Labs
Nancy Ferguson
Chris Fournelle
Lorraine Fry
Eric Golbranson
Erin Hamilton
Andrew Harris Trust
John Haynsworth Photography
Wendy Hawkins
Janice Hough
Ben Howard
The Johnson Family
Ben Loeterman Productions
Alexander Mah
Tim Mangini
Clay Mills
Newtonville Camera & Video
Laine Scandalis
Snowbird Ski Patrol
Tape Services, Inc.
The Lodge at Snowbird
Thomson Safaris
Video Express
The Viesturs Family
Wachusett Mountain Associates
The Weathers Family
Joshua Weinstein
Gwen Williams
Mike Wiser
Hotel Yak & Yeti


Executive Producer

Universal Pictures in association with StudioCanal
A Working Title Films production in association with Arcturus Motion Pictures

Remnants of Everest - The 1996 Tragedy
Universal City Studios LLLP

Storm Over Everest Additional Material
WGBH Educational Foundation

ANNOUNCER: This story continues on our Web site, where you can explore an interactive map of the mountain, with a time chart showing where the climbers were as they recount what was happening to them, read filmmaker and climber David Breashears's interview about making the film and what he learned, read interviews with the climbers and Sherpas on some of the tragedy's major themes, why the quest for Everest, what's the responsibility of a team's leader, what are the rules and ethics of mountain climbing, and more on what it was like to be trapped at 26,000 feet in 80-mile-an-hour winds and temperatures of 30 below. Then join the discussion about this film at

Next time on FRONTLINE-

AUTUMN: I felt like someone completely different.

ANNOUNCER: She became someone on line.

AUTUMN: I felt like I was famous.

ANNOUNCER: He got all A's.

GREG: I'll be honest, I can't remember the last time I read a book.

ANNOUNCER: These girls became notorious.

NYALA: People would be, like, "Yo, I just seen y'all on YouTube."

ANNOUNCER: And he learned something deadly. Growing up Online. Watch FRONTLINE.

FRONTLINE's Storm Over Everest is available on DVD. To order, call 1-800-255-9424 [$29.99 & s/h] or order on line at

FRONTLINE is made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.

With major funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helping to build a more just world. And additional funding from the Park Foundation.

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
site map . dvd & transcript . press reaction . credits . privacy policy . journalistic guidelines . FRONTLINE series home . wgbh . pbs

posted June 11, 2008

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