Jon Krakauer, an experienced climber and outdoor journalist, was sent to climb Mt. Everest in Nepal in the spring of 1996. Late at night on the evening of May 9, 1996, after weeks of grueling climbing, acclimatization to low oxygen at high altitudes, illness, blinding snow, bitter cold, and hurricane force winds, the clients of several climbing organizations from the US, New Zealand, South Africa, and Taiwan reached an altitude of 26,000 feet before making the final ascent to the peak.
Krakauer and his companions led by professional climbing guides and experienced Sherpas left camp at midnight on May 10th on what developed into a perfect morning for reaching the summit. By 4:00 pm, two full hours beyond the discussed but not enforced mandatory turn around time, the weather conditions change rapidly from tranquil to blizzard in a matter of minutes. Winds are blowing with gale-force strength and as night falls the temperature with wind chill is more than 100 degrees below zero. With no shelter and a shortage of oxygen canisters, 30 individuals are exposed and freezing above 26,000 feet on the barren, icy slopes of Everest. Krakauer loses several climbing partners and climbers from other groups, and two experienced expedition-leading guides.
This report prepared by David Fletcher