MOUNTAINS ARE NOT MOLEHILLS
Scot Crenshaw, Ph.D.
Nicie Murphy, Ph.D.
If Mount Everest were an empire, its motto would undoubtedly be “I shall not be conquered”. However formidable, this giant which stands over 8000 meters above sea level into the sky, did not seem to intimidate the owners of the commercial guide companies, Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness. In fact, these two firms, which earned considerable profit guiding amateurs up the mountain’s notorious heights, felt comfortable enough to attempt the ascent against the comfort of several participants. Both companies led their expeditions up toward the summit of the mountain amid problems and circumstances which have been continually questioned in retrospect. This paper seeks to analyze both the internal and external factors and conditions, as presented in the case study, that both companies contended with that fateful year, and to provide recommendations for going forward for future success.
Case Study Analysis of Mount Everest-1996
MOUNTAINS ARE NOT MOLEHILLS
Introduction and History
Rob Hall’s successful endeavor on all Seven Summits in 1990 paved the way for his company, Adventure Consultants, to be held in high regard. He founded the company in 1992, and gained a lot of early success. By 1994, he managed to guide 39 clients to the summit of Everest (Roberto & Carioggia, 2002. p2). This fame allowed him the opportunity to collect fees larger than other guides worldwide, however in 1995, “he failed to guide any clients to the summit” (p2) although his brochure stated “100% success!” (Boukreev & Dewalt as cited in Roberto & Carioggia). Mountain Madness was a company founded almost a decade earlier in 1984 by Scott Fisher. His company offered only climbing instruction and guided expeditions, but in 1996, after his first successful ascent in 1994, he organized his first commercial expedition on Everest (p3). He made history by achieving his 1994 feat without the use of supplemental oxygen, a task that is, without question, difficult for even the most trained to accomplish. Both expeditions hired two guides with considerable experience to assist their clients. Hall hired two guides for the 1996 expedition, only one of which had ever scaled Everest. The same went for Fischer’s team; one guide had Everest experience while the other was not quite as familiar with the peak. In addition to the leader and their two hired guides, the eight clients on each team were also assisted by an additional seven Sherpas from Adventure Consultants, and eight from Mountain Madness. Consequently, there was an abundance of expertise among them to help navigate the circumstances.
Internal Strengths and Weaknesses
Certain basic strengths of the companies involved are evident. First, Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness provided a rare service of leading expeditions to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. These expeditions were led by individuals who were highly skilled and experienced in mountain climbing at high altitudes; both Hall and Fischer had climbed to the top of Mount Everest and led others to do the same. Because of the technical nature of what is involved, not many companies possess the expertise to provide such a product; these organizations stand as two of a small number who could.
Second, the leadership and human resources in terms of industry-specific technical expertise constitutes a strength of the companies. Hall and Fischer, as stated above, had the experience necessary to head their respective companies. In such a highly specialized industry having trained, experienced personnel is necessary for the business to be successful. The nature of such a business calls...