The disaster that took place on 10 May 1996, on the legendary Mount Everest, will be etched in everyone’s memories for years to come. It is one of the most controversial Mount Everest disasters and as Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air” hit the shelves, giving a personal account of what happened on the mountain, tempers flared and many climbers that were on the mountain on that fateful day felt that the account was not completely true.
Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air” tells the horrifying tale of one of the most publicized expeditions in Nepal. And even though there have been many varied versions of that day, Jon Krakauer wrote a book based on his own experience, emotions and opinions. Though some of the incidents were later corrected by the author himself, it opened an avalanche of discussion and investigation.
The journalist for Outside Magazine was going to summit Everest under the skillful guidance of Rob Hall. No-one, not even Jon, could have expected his journey to become an adventure filled with tragedy and tremendous loss. Scott Fischer was the head guide of the second expedition party and together with their clients, guides and equipment, Scott Fischer and Rob Hall led their expedition parties towards the summit. It is impossible to predict the weather on Mount Everest, as is the effect that the altitude will have on climbers. Illness, injury and fatigue are common amongst climbers and it is also the reason that not all who attempt Everest make the summit the first time. After so many expeditions in Nepal you might think that it is safe but, as the greatest Mount Everest disaster has reminded us, nature cannot be tamed. Tragically Mount Everest took eight lives that day in May, including that of Hall and Fischer. Hall managed to make a last call to his wife, via satellite link, saying: "I love you. Sleep well, my sweetheart. Please don't worry too much."
Along with nature, human nature and the decisions that were made that day seemed to have played a significant role in the events of the summit and descent. And even if it continues to be debated, defended and analyzed, the tragedy and the book written by Jon Krakauer has left many wondering about the trust that is placed in the hands of the guides, the responsibility and burden they carry with each climb. Many climbers have been lost on the mountain, many will suffer the same fate in the future, and it really does not matter who was to blame on the mountain in 1996 as we all take our lives in our own hands and we must all live with the decisions we make and their consequences.