Why Did the Mt Everest Tragdey Happen?

Topics: Mount Everest, Tenzing Norgay, Himalayas Pages: 6 (2403 words) Published: December 7, 2005
On May 10, 1996 six people died trying to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. These people were parts of two expeditions that were in the Himalayas, preparing to ascend the summit for six weeks. The first group was under the direction of Rob Hall, who had put 39 paying clients on the summit in five years. Hall was considered the leader of the mountain and the man to see no matter what the discrepancy. Group two, headed by Fisher, who like Hall, was trying to start a profitable business in providing the experience of climbing Mt. Everest to all for the price of 60 to 70 thousand dollars. Unfortunatly, neither man would live to tell the tale of this expedition.

At 11 pm on May 9, these climbers began their final ascent to the summit. This was the time everyone should have realized the horrors to come. Earlier this day the climbers witnessed the first death of the trip. A man lost his footing and slid down the mountain. He was left at the camp to recover, but when he tried to descend, he curled over and died. Also, because they were the first groups to attempt the climb this season, fixed ropes had to be put in place before attempting a difficult section of the mountain. It was agreed that the Sherpas would do this, but it never happened. The groups were way behind their deadline to reach the summit on May 10 at 1 pm. Using good judgment, three climbers from Hall's group decided to turn around and begin the descendent. The others trudged on, and reached the peak. However as Hall said, "With enough determination, any bloody idiot can get up this hill. The trick is to get back down alive." People were far from prepared to handle the task of climbing the most massive mountain in the world, combined with internal disagreement amongst groups' leaders, a horrible storm, ignoring deadlines, and the quest to mass market a deadly expedition all led up an unforgettable tragedy.

How could a terrible thing like this happen? There are several factors that caused this tragedy. One of the most crucial mistakes that occurred on the 1996 trek, was that deadlines were ignored. Both leaders emphasized how important it was to reach the summit peak by one o'clock. If the guides or any climber thought they could not reach the peak in time, it was extremely important that they turn around and began the descent. The climbers were on a tight schedule that left little room for error. For if they fell behind deadlines, not only would they have a perilous night time descent, but also their oxygen supply would become depleted. However, when it became apparent that they were behind schedule, instead of turning around, Hall and Fisher made the decision to keep moving upward, and almost everyone, including guides, arrived late. The climbers climbed down in the darkness as a ferocious blizzard developed.

Another factor in the tragedy is that many of the climbers should probably not have been there in the first place. They were inexperienced and ill prepared. Hall and Fisher were under pressure to sell adventure to anyone who would pay for it. They boasted that they could assist any man or women with only a moderate climbing background to the top of the peak. As a result, many of the clients had little experience climbing high mountains. For example, the author of the article had never been above 17,000 feet. Even one of their junior guides, Harris, had never been above 23,000 feet or been to Everest. Not just Hall's and Fisher's teams were inexperienced. It was generally becoming more popular for inexperienced climbers to scale Everest. "In 1985 the floodgates were flung wide open when Dick Bass, a wealthy 55 year old Texan with limited climbing experience, was ushered to the top of Everest by an extraordinary young climber…" As a result, many climbing teams, including Hall's and Fisher's, were filled with childhood dreams rather than actual skill. One of the clients who was not prepared had failed Everest twice...
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