Most deaths on Mount Everest have been attributed to avalanches, injury from fall, ice collapse, exposure, frostbite, or health problems related to conditions on the mountain. Not all bodies have been located, so details on those deaths are not available.
The upper reaches of the mountain are in the death zone. The death zone is a mountaineering term for altitudes above a certain point – around 8,000 m (26,000 ft), or less than 356 millibars (5.16 psi) of atmospheric pressure – where the oxygen level is not sufficient to sustain human life.
Many deaths in high-altitude mountaineering have been caused by the effects of the death zone, either directly (loss of vital functions) or indirectly (unwise decisions made under stress or physical weakening leading to accidents). In the death zone, the human body cannot acclimatize, as it uses oxygen faster than it can be replenished. An extended stay in the zone without supplementary oxygen will result in deterioration of bodily functions, loss of consciousness and, ultimately, death.
Climbing Mount Everest is an Amazing and most difficult accomplishments a man can go up against. The individuals who attempt the summit confront hazardous conditions, outrageous chilly, and absence of access to emergency crews – also fatigue. It’s not astonishing that there are such a large number of deadly Mount Everest stories, or that the slants of the pinnacle are littered with dead bodies. In spite of the fact that the mountain has taken many lives, no single climb has been deadlier than the 1996 Mount Everest summit climb expedition.
Mount Everest Climbers
The following is a list of climbers en route to the summit on 10 May 1996 via the South Col and Southeast Ridge, organized by expedition and role. All ages are as of 1996.
The Adventure Consultants’ 1996 Everest expedition, led by Rob Hall, consisted of these individuals.
Adventure Consultants Guides
Rob Hall – expedition leader (died near the South Summit)
Andy Harris (disappeared near the South Summit while assisting Hall)
Adventure Consultants Clients
Frank Fischbeck (53) – attempted Everest three times, reached the South Summit in ’94
Doug Hansen (46) – previously attempted Everest with Hall’s team in ’95 (disappeared near the South Summit while descending with Hall)
Stuart Hutchison (34) – youngest client on Hall’s team; previous 8,000 m experiences included K2 winter expedition 1988, Broad Peak west ridge 1992, and Everest north side 1994
Lou Kasischke (53) – had climbed six of the Seven Summits
Jon Krakauer (41) – journalist on assignment from Outside magazine; an accomplished technical climber, but had no experience in climbing peaks over 8,000 m
Yasuko Namba (47) – had climbed the Seven Summits; became the oldest woman to summit Everest at the time (died on the South Col)
John Taske (56) – oldest climber on the Adventure Consultants team; no 8,000 m experience
Beck Weathers (49) – had been climbing for 10 years; he was also making a bid for the Seven Summits, but had no 8,000 m experience
Mount Everest Adventure Consultants Sherpas
Sardar Ang Dorje (29)
The Sherpas listed here were the climbing Sherpas hired by Rob Hall’s Adventure Consultants. There were many other Sherpas working at lower elevations, who performed duties vital to the Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness expeditions.
Most climbing Sherpas’ duties require them to ascend at least as high as Camp III or IV, but not all of them summit. The expedition leaders intend for only a select few of their climbing Sherpas to summit. Legendary sardar Apa Sherpa was scheduled to accompany the Adventure Consultants group but withdrew due to family commitments.
None of the clients on Hall’s team had ever reached the summit of an 8,000 m peak, and only Fischbeck, Hansen and Hutchison had previous high-altitude Himalayan experience.
Hall had brokered a deal with Outside magazine for advertising space in exchange for a story about the growing popularity of commercial expeditions to Everest. Krakauer was originally slated to climb with Scott Fischer’s Mountain Madness team, but Hall landed him, at least in part, by agreeing to reduce Outside’s fee for Krakauer’s spot on the expedition to less than cost. As a result, Hall was paying out-of-pocket to have Krakauer on his team.
Mountain Madness expedition Team
Scott Fischer was the lead climbing guide for the Mountain Madness expedition. The team included eight clients.
Mountain Madness expedition Guides
Scott Fischer – lead climbing guide (died on the Southeast ridge balcony 350m below the South Summit)
Neal Beidleman – professional outdoorsman
Anatoli Boukreev – professional mountaineer, in 1997 was awarded the David A. Sowles Memorial Award by the American Alpine Club.
Mountain Madness expedition Clients
Martin Adams (47) – had climbed Aconcagua, Denali, and Kilimanjaro
Charlotte Fox (38) – had climbed all 53 of the 14,000 ft (4,267 m) peaks in Colorado and two 8,000 m peaks, Gasherbrum II, and Cho Oyu
Lene Gammelgaard (35) – accomplished mountaineer
Dale Kruse (45) – long-term personal friend of Fischer’s; first to sign up
Tim Madsen (33) – climbed extensively in the Colorado and Canadian Rockies; no 8,000 m experience
Sandy Hill Pittman (41) – had climbed six of the Seven Summits
Pete Schoening (68) – one of the first to climb Gasherbrum I and Mount Vinson; known for single-handedly saving the lives of six team members during a mass fall in the American expeditionon K2, 1953
Klev Schoening (38) – Pete’s nephew; former US national downhill ski racer; no 8,000 m experience.
Mountain Madness expedition Sherpas
Sardar Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa (23)
Ngawang Sya Kya
Ngawang Topche (died a few months later from HAPE he contracted during hauling duties to Camp II)
The Sherpas listed here were the climbing Sherpas hired by Scott Fischer’s Mountain Madness expedition. Ngawang Topche was hospitalized in April; he had developed high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) while ferrying supplies above Base Camp. He was not on the mountain during the summit attempt of 10 May. Topche died from his illness that June.
Schoening had decided, while still at Base Camp (5,380 m/17,700 ft), not to make the final push to the summit. The team began the assault on the summit on 6 May, bypassing Camp I (5,944 m/19,500 ft) and stopping at Camp II (6,500 m/21,300 ft) for two nights. However, Kruse suffered from altitude sickness and possible high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and stopped at Camp I. Fischer descended from Camp II and escorted Kruse back to Base Camp for treatment.
Taiwanese expedition Team
“Makalu” Gau Ming-Ho led a five-member team to Everest that day.
The previous day (9 May), Taiwanese team member Chen Yu-Nan had died following a fall on the Lhotse Face.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police
Main article: 1996 Indo-Tibetan Border Police expedition to Mount Everest
Half the climbing team from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police North Col expedition from India (Subedar Tsewang Samanla, Lance Naik Dorje Morup, and Head Constable Tsewang Paljor) died on the Northeast Ridge.
Details about the deadliest Everest climb chart a grim narrative of planning gone awry. On May 10 and 11, 1996, eight climbers lost their lives. Some were seasoned athletes who had completed this trek before; others had never attempted a climb of this magnitude. None could have anticipated what it’s like to die on Mount Everest.
You know the story: it’s the true inspiration behind Jon Krakauer’s bestseller Into Thin Air. But what you likely don’t know is how terrifying that climb really was. These facts about the 1996 Mount Everest disaster will chill you to the bone, almost as much as the Himalayan mountain’s icy peaks.
More Novices Were Attempting The Climb On That Day
Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay were the first men known to summit Mount Everest in 1953. But by the mid-1990s, technology had advanced so much that even intermediate climbers could attempt the dangerous trek with the help of guides. In 1996, there were more expeditions up Everest than ever before. A whopping 17 groups, made up of hundreds of climbers, tried to climb the peak that year.
Many of those climbers were relatively inexperienced. That, combined with the overcrowded conditions on the mountain, proved deadly.
Four Separate Groups Tried To Reach The Summit
Four groups were caught up in the deadly events on Everest. The Mountain Madness team was led by Scott Fischer, Neal Beidleman, and Anatoli Boukreev. They had eight clients of varying experience. They were also accompanied by a number of Sherpas to help carry their gear.
Adventure Consultants was led by veteran climbers Rob Hall, Mike Groom, and Andy Harris. They guided eight clients, including Jon Krakauer, a journalist from Outside magazine, who was there to report on the commercialization of Everest.
Mount Everest Climbers Paid Nearly $60,000 To Make It To The Top
Climbing Mount Everest comes at a cost, and each of the climbers on Rob Hall’s expedition that left on that deadly day paid nearly $60,000 to make the trip. Scott Fischer had competing rates, and the guides were locked in an unofficial rivalry as they promised climbers the chance to reach the summit.
Survivor Lou Kasischke blames the price tag for the intense pressure to succeed, and claims that the deaths could have been avoided had they just turned around like they normally would have: “To feed the business they need success. The minute Scott kept going to the summit, he couldn’t face not going.”
Some People Treated The Expedition Like A Vacation
Sandy Pittman, the wife of TV businessman Rob Pittman, had climbed six of the “High Seven” mountains before she signed onto Scott Fischer’s expedition up Everest. But her experience didn’t stop her from bringing a slew of bizarre items with her, possibly to enliven her reports for NBC Interactive Media:
“I have got as much in the way of computers and electronic hardware as I have climbing equipment: two portable microcomputers, a camcorder, three 35 mm cameras, a digital camera, two tape recorders, a CD player, a printer and a sufficient quantity (I hope) of solar panels and batteries to make the whole lot operate. I would not like to leave without taking a blend of coffee from Dean & DeLuca, as well as my espresso machine. And because we will be on Everest for Easter, I have also taken four chocolate eggs. Hunting for Easter eggs at 5,000 meters should be interesting.”
Pittman didn’t seem to understand how formidable of an undertaking climbing Everest was. Reportedly, she even enlisted friends like Martha Stewart to meet her at base camp and had copies of Vogue and Vanity Fair sent to her while she adjusted to the high altitude.
Years later, Pittman spoke out about the way she was portrayed in the book Into Thin Air. She resented being characterized as a diva, saying,
“I was an easy target. Back in those days you could get away with destroying someone’s life and flogging them with innuendo.”
Disastrous Delays Happened From The Start
All of the expeditions encountered delays before they even really set out to the peak on May 10. The Sherpas and guides hadn’t fixed ropes by the time the climbers reached the Balcony (at around 8,300 feet); installing them cost the climbers an hour. When they reached the Hillary Step, they discovered that there was no fixed line there, either, which took another hour to install.
There was also a terrible bottleneck effect because multiple climbers were trying to make it through Hillary Step at the same time. Some climbers began to turn around in fear of running out of oxygen because of the delays. Others continued to the summit without extra oxygen.
The Guides Pressed On Despite Waning Daylight
Lou Kasischke, an amateur climber who managed to survive the 1996 disaster, believes a rivalry between the climbing teams lead to the high body count on Everest. Guide Rob Hall promised to turn around if the climbers didn’t have a chance of reaching base camp in daylight; in fact, he had turned back the year prior over safety concerns. But, according to Kasischke, Hall saw Fischer head to the summit, so he ignored the shrinking daylight and went, too.
“The climbing plan was to go down at that point. No one would have died if the plan had been followed,” Kasischke said.
At around 1:25 p.m., a group of climbers lead by Anatoli Boukreev arrived at the summit. People didn’t begin the descent until after 3 p.m., and by that point, it was dangerously late to be starting back down the mountain.
The Climbers Became Trapped In A Storm
Due to the deferrals along the course, climbers were running low on oxygen. And after that, to exacerbate the situation, a storm suddenly slipped upon the mountain, stranding climbers a fourth of a mile from their tents. Indeed, even the experienced guides thought that it was hard to move.
Anatoli Boukreev ended up descending to the nearest camp without his clients, supposedly to put himself in a better position to rescue them later (a move that was highly criticized). Rob Hall and Scott Fischer stayed with their clients as they ran out of oxygen.
Visibility was nonexistent on the slopes. “It was like swimming in a glass of milk – a very turbulent glass of milk – for another eight to 10 hours,” said Sandy Pittman.
Due to the difficulties and dangers in bringing bodies down, most of those who die on the mountain remain where they fall, although some are moved by winds and ice. Two Nepalese climbers died on October 24, 1984, while trying to recover the body of Hannelore Schmatz. While searching for George Mallory’s body in a “catchment basin” near the peak in 1999, searchers came across multiple bodies in the snow, including Mallory’s
The Deadliest Event That Shock Mount Everest’s Climbers – Facts About Mount Everest
1. Mount Everest is the world’s highest point at 8,848 meters (29,029 ft.) above sea level.
2. Numbers – 4,000 people have attempted to climb the mountain, 660 have succeeded, 142 have died trying, the peak is 5 and half miles above the sea level, to reach the peak, you will have to put 20 Empire State Buildings on top of each other.
3. The mountain was named after Sir George Everest – the British surveyor-general of India.
4. The mountain is approximately 60 years old.
5. Other names used to refer to the mountain include; Sagarmatha in Nepalese, Chomolungm in Tibetan.
6. The mountain grows 4mm higher every year due to Geographical uplifts.
7. Mt Everest was initially known as Peak 15 at the height of 29,002 feet in 1856. Its name was later changed to Mt. Everest in 1865. In 1955, its height was adjusted to 29,028 (which Nepal use to-date). China uses 29,015 feet as the official height but using the modern GPS technology in 1999, scientists established its height to be 29,035 feet.
8. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first human beings to climb the mountain on May 29, 1953.
9. Italian Reinhold Messner and Peter Habler in 1978 were the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest without bottled oxygen.
10. Avalanches on the mountain are the greatest cause of death on the mountain. In 1996, 15 people lost their lives as they attempted to descend from the mountain due to an avalanche.
Climbing the Mount Everest is an epic feat to accomplish – but it also involves putting your life in monumental danger. The Himalayas have abundance of places to climb without necessarily putting your life in danger. For the brave, make sure you know all you need to know before attempting the climb.
Watch Video of 1996 Everest Catastrophe Full Documentary
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