Of all the tales of tragedies ~ above the mountains, this is perhaps one of the many harrowing. Mount Everest, the greatest mountain ~ above Earth, is atop numerous mountaineer’s bucket list and while that is no necessarily one of the many technical, it have the right to be among the many deadly. This story mirrors just how inhospitable the mountains can be.

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Known as one of the many lethal years in Everest’s history, 1996 experienced the deaths that 15 climbers, eight of whom passed away on 10 May. On now 33 climbers from three teams (Mountain Madness, a government-funded Taiwanese group and Adventure Consultants) to be attempting to with the summit.

Guides had forgotten to set up addressed ropes in breakthrough and for this reason the groups were delayed because that over two hrs on your ascent. The an outcome of these delays meant that a accumulation of climbers led to a bottleneck in ~ the young name Step, and many summited an extremely late, previous the recommended summit time the 2pm which permits for a for sure descent back to camp.


Anatoli Boukreev, that was the first to summit the day, left the groups and also returned by self to Camp IV. Climber and journalist, Jon Krakauer criticised the Russian in the consequences of 10 might for no helping others on his way down, but due to the fact that then the has come to be recognised for conserving others who might have died that night.

Boukreev reached Camp IV in ~ 5pm, but even climate there were still climbers do the efforts to get to the top. Through 5:30pm a blizzard had actually blown in, burying the fixed ropes that had actually been placed and any trail the the groups had blazed on their ascent.

By this time, every hell was start to break loose for the climbers. Two, Gau Ming-ho from Taiwan and American Scott Fischer, to be stranded and also unable to descend below the Balcony (a little rocky platform at 8,400m).

Sunrise in ~ the Balcony top top Everest. Photo: Elia Saikaly

Adventure Consultant guide Rob hall was grounding on the Hilary step with his customer Doug Hansen who had actually lost consciousness. Hall radioed for aid and fellow guide Andy Harris bravely turned back with oxygen and also water for the duo.

As the blizzard obtained worse numerous climbers from both teams (Mountain Madness’ Neal Beidleman, Pete Schoening, Charlotte Fox, Tim Madsen, Sandy Pittman and Lene Gammelgaard, in addition to Adventure Consultants’ Mike Groom, Beck Weathers and Yasuko Namba) became lost on the south Col and were required to bivvy simply 20m from a substantial drop ~ above the Kangshung Face.

Beidleman, Groom, Schoening and Gammelgaard collection off to find help when the blizzard eased for a moment. As soon as the foursome reached Camp IV, Boukreev set off and located the stranded climbers, happen Fox, Madsen and also Pittman to safety while choosing to leave Namba and also Weathers as they to be in hypothermic comas and close come death.


Sherpas were sent to check on them the next day only to find they to be so spanned in ice that it had actually to be chipped turn off of their faces. When again the pair to be left together they to be presumed dead. Shortly after, Weathers regained consciousness and in a feat of too much human endurance stumbled ~ above his frost-bitten feet and staggered, half blind (his eye had actually frozen over) come Camp IV.

The following day in ~ 4:43am hall radioed in from the Hilary step stating that Hansen to be gone and Harris was missing. Later on in the afternoon, still stuck on the mountain, he requested base camp to speak to his mam for him. In an emotionally exchange hall told her:

“Sleep fine my sweetheart. Please don’t worry too much.” he was found dead top top 23 May.

As the storm eased, sherpas rescued the frozen Gau, and also Boukreev once again ascended in an attempt to rescue Fischer. At 7pm he uncovered his frozen body. Had actually it no been for the Russian, much more could have passed away on that fateful day. A year later Boukreev himself passed away while making an attempt on Annapurna.

Anatoli Boukreev: to be it not for his heroic efforts, much more would have passed away on that day. Photo: Jaan Kunnap

Following the tragedy, Jon Krakauer (author of Into the Wild) walk on to create a bestselling non-fiction book around his suffer on the mountains. Into slim Air: A an individual Account the the Mt. Everest Disaster details the events that unfolded, though Krakauer’s narrative was widely criticised among the climbing ar for exactly how it negatively illustrated Anatoli Boukreev.

In the book, Krakauer wondered about Boukreev’s judgement, his decision come descend before his clients, his choice of gear, and also his communication with his clients. Boukreev adressed these criticisms in his very own book, The Climb.

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The story of Everest 1996 to be immortalised in film as soon as it was made right into a feature-length movie in 2015, starring Jason Clarke, mock Brolin, john Hawkes, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, and also Jake Gyllenhall.