Flashback: Tragedy Strikes Mount Everest

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A view of Mount Everest from the summit of Gokyo Ri. markyatd hide caption

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On May 10, 1996, an unexpected and violent storm hit Mount Everest. It trapped three climbing teams near the top of the peak, and resulted in the deaths of five climbers on the south side of the mountain. It's known as the mountain's worst tragedy to date, and many attempts have been made to retell the story. Mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears was at base camp that day. In a new documentary called Storm Over Everest, he pays tribute to those who died, and interviews some of the climbers who survived, who, with frostbitten hands and noses, try to make sense of that fateful day.

If you've traveled to, or climbed, Mount Everest, tell us your story. And if you have a question about the 1996 tragedy, leave it here.

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What awareness and changes were made in the name of safety, communication, and organization after the tragedy?

Sent by Mike Gillis | 3:46 PM | 5-12-2008

I went to base camp in 2000. It always amazes me when people comment on the fact that people are dragged up for $65,000. I imagine they have never even attempted climbing at any high elevation. Even to be guided up, they needed to be fit. It's humbling to be there. Whereever.

Sent by Jenness Hobart | 3:46 PM | 5-12-2008

I hear you the callers and your guest talking about climbing everest, its not about just climbing its about getting down, which I think is often overlooked and underestimated. Your Thoughts?

Sent by Mike Willingham | 3:53 PM | 5-12-2008

Today's guest, David Breashears, says people who climb do not do it to become amputees nor to freeze to death. Whatever reason they do climb does not matter as much as the fact that they put thrill seeking above securing the emotional lives of those who love them. The guest said climbers do not climb to become amputees nor to die. That statement is meant to be a chastisment to people who think like me. People who deliberately put their lives in danger get what they deserve. They put rescuers' lives in danger, create widows, orphans, grief stricken parents. Children need their fathers. They do not seek to be orphans. I believe climbers are terribly selfish people; their good deeds that preceed the climb in anyway make up for the loss off lives and the consiquencial negative effects to many more who are left to struggle without them.

Sent by Sharon Maribona | 4:26 PM | 5-12-2008

I was at Everest in May,1987. The Tibetan side. It was the biggest and most beautiful thing I had ever seen, yet very ominous and threatening.

Sent by Jim Johnson | 8:15 PM | 5-12-2008

I have flown by Everest...but my Everest story is a little different. Going into labor with my son, we brought "Into Thin Air" to the hospital with us. As labor went on, my husband read to me between contractions. Labor continued for 10 hours, 20 hours. He read, counted and breathed with me, read some more. Another 10 hours. I was intent on avoiding a C-section...I would wait it out. And then, as I was nearing 40 hours, still hoping for a natural birth, my husband read me the passage about a climber who turned back only 400 feet from the summit, thereby saving his life. That's when I too decided to "turn back" and allowed the doctors to do a cesarean section to save my baby. My son too was low on oxygen, but he survived, and is almost 11 today.

x

And my first "solo" evening outing after my son was born? A trip to my then-local library, Ann Arbor, MI, to hear a talk by...Lou Kasischke, the climber wise enough to know when to continue and when to turn back.

He saved his own life, and, in doing so, maybe saved my son's.

Sent by Ruth Greenwood | 9:54 PM | 5-12-2008

I've watched most of the documentary and noticed that Krakauer was conspicuously absent. Is there some reason for this?

Sent by Alois De Vos | 5:27 PM | 5-16-2008