Everest2017 marks the 21st anniversary of the 1996 Everest Disaster that killed 8 climbers including Adventure Consultants leader Rob Hall and Mountain Madness leader Scott Fisher on May 10, 1996. This day remains with everyone in the mountaineering community as a tragic unfolding of events that began on the 10th with an epic storm and would not end until the 12th. In its path, the storm left 8 climbers dead and one clinging to life, left for dead and only being saved by a tenacious wife who would not give up on him.
Everest may be on every mountaineer’s bucket list, but true mountaineers know the prize lies on the summit of K2, or Karakoram 2, the savage mountain, the brutal mountain, the “King of Mountains.” At just 800 ft. shorter than Everest, K2 is the world’s second highest mountain; and while Everest is the tallest, it does not compare in any measure to the brutality that is an expedition on K2.
By measure of ratio, the death count on K2 is much higher than that of Everest, with well-documented mountaineering disasters in 1986, 1995 and the most recent in 2008; the 2008 disaster has been known as the most controversial of all. For every 100 mountaineers that attempt a summit on K2, 29 will die. Only 306 climbers have succeeded, 80+ have perished. Compared to Everest’s 5600+ summits and around 300 deaths, K2’s reputation, which is all but impossible to describe in words, is accurately captured by something as simple as numbers.
K2 was dubbed “Karakoram 2” in 1856 by T.G. Montgomerie, the name stuck.
On May 10, 1996, four groups of climbers set out to summit Mount Everest – one group led by Rob Hall of Adventure Consultants, another led by Scott Fischer of Mountain Madness, an expedition organized by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and a Taiwanese expedition. The day would turn out to be the single most disastrous event in the mountain’s history, killing 8 and injuring others after an unexpected blizzard ravaged the climbers, trapping them high on the mountain.
Everest, the highest peak in the world and a hugely commercialized climbing destination; standing at 29, 029 ft. tall, the mountain has seen over 8,000 climbers reach it’s summit since the first successful attempt by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953, however, in 2015 no one summited Mount Everest, and the entire climbing season was canceled. Here’s why:
The 1996 Everest Disaster unfolded on May 10; after the events, Anatoli Bookreev wrote The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Mount Everest. This analysis covers the events as written in Bookreev’s book. Another analysis of Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster” by Jon Krakauer, which is a rival to Bookreev’s version of events was of the same tragedy also written.