Into Thin Air

The Tragedy On Everest The preventable mistakes caused by several guides caused several climbers to perish. As a group of climbers get closer and closer to the top of the world, a freak storm arrives and mistakes are made, transforming what should have been the greatest days of the climbers’ lives into a battle for survival and for some, their last moments on Earth. The guides on Mount Everest made several mistakes. There were multiple teams which tried to summit on one day, not taking into consideration the possibly fatal results of the bottleneck effect on the climb.

On the summit climb, a number of different mishaps confronted them causing the climbers to fall behind schedule. This caused most of the climbers and guides to be in a poor position on the mountain when the storm arrived (Krakauer 11). This storm trapped and killed several guides and climbers. Time delays were a huge contributing cause of this tragedy and the majority of time issues were caused by the guides. Before they summited, they had a set schedule which would allow the climbers to return to base camp safely in a reasonable time (Krakauer 7). Bottlenecks caused a significant delay in ascent (Storm Over Everest).

Too much time reaching and celebrating on the summit caused delays. Rob Hall ( guide) did not abide by the rules of the turn-around time (Krakauer 11). This was a vital element in the outcome of whether he and his clients would live or die. Hubris was a major problem for the guides that led to the demise of many climbers. In this case, some guides did not use oxygen masks (Storm Over Everest). This increased the risk of the climb and made it more likely that they could be incapacitated and unable to perform the duties of a guide as necessary and endangering the customers (Krakauer 9).

Regardless of their climbing experience, the safety of the customer should have been put first. Hubris was also relevant when the guides got behind schedule and thought that they could disregard their own safety rules without quickening the descent down the mountain. The final error the guides committed was with their decision-making and priorities on the climb. Their intent was to get as many climbers to the summit as possible for their business and reputation interests( Krakauer 4).

They did not consider fully the safety of the climber’s summiting. Another issue was Anatoli Boukreev’s decision to descend ahead of his customers indicating more self-interest than interest in the safety of the group (Boukreev et al. 3). In many instances, the guides placed a greater importance on reputation, money, and business and in one case personal safety over the safety of the climbers. Although there might be other causes of the disaster, if the guides put the climbers safety first, then there would have been much less chance of a bad outcome.

The tragedy cannot be blamed on the sherpas because if the guides had properly reacted to the mistakes that the sherpas made and sent the climbers back to camp, then every one would have been safe. I do not feel like you can blame this on the physical condition of a few individuals because the guides had the responsibility of making sure that all climbers were cleared for health conditions that would have hampered their ability to climb. Due to the decisions the guides made during the tragedy, some people who perished may still be alive.

In general, the guides put money, pride and reaching the summit ahead of the safety of the climbers. This ultimately was the deciding and most influential cause for the 1996 Mount Everest tragedy. Works Cited Boukreev, Anatoli, Jon Krakauer, and Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa. “What Really Happened In The Thin Air”. MountainZone. Demand Media Sports, 29 August 1996. Web. 27 October 2011. Krakauer, Jon. “Into Thin Air. ” Outside. Mariah Media Network, September 1996. Web. O5 October 2011. Storm Over Everest. Dir. David Breashears. Perf. Neil Beidleman, David Breashears, and Guy Cotter. Frontline. 2008. Film.

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