Into Thin Air: Rob Hall
Everest is an unbelievable mountain that has taken the lives of a number of the greatest climbers in history. It was my job to ensure that clients make it up that treacherous mountain safely. My name is Rob Hall. I was the main guide and cofounder of a climbing company called Adventure Consultants. My friend, Gary Ball, and I used to be professional climbers. Together we succeeded in climbing to the highest summit on each of the seven continents in seven months. This was our greatest achievement. After this, we decided to start our own company guiding clients up large mountains. In May 1992, we successfully led six clients to the summit of Everest. Unfortunately, Gary died of cerebral edema in October 1993 during an attempt on the world’s sixth-tallest mountain. He died in my arms and the next day I buried him in a crevasse. Despite the pain that his death had caused me, I continued guiding for our company and eventually led thirty-nine climbers to the summit of Everest.
My last trip to the summit was a journey filled with danger and hardships. The group of people that I was to lead up Everest included Doug Hansen, Sandy Pittman, Jon Krakauer, and Beck Weathers. Doug Hansen had attempted the summit on a guided expedition by me a year earlier, but we had to turn back. All and all the beginning of this trip was similar to many of my other commercial expeditions. We started at Kathmandu and worked our way to Phakding, where I picked up my crew of Sherpas. The Sherpas are very important to our expedition, so I told the team to appreciate their hard work. We then continued to climb until we stopped at Lobuje. This overcrowded village was disgusting and caused many of my clients to become ill. I had to leave early to assist Tenzing, one of my Sherpas who fell into a crevasse. With the assistance of several Sherpas and other guides we were able to get Tenzing down the mountain safely. After this major catastrophe, I met the rest of my team at Base Camp. As my group of climbers in this commercial expedition rested at Base Camp, I worked around the clock preparing for the treacherous climb up the mountain. I needed to know everything I could if I was to lead a safe expedition.
I implemented my usual plan to prepare my group for the climb to the summit. My Sherpas and I set up camps above Base Camp with extra food, water, and oxygen. As we were doing this, I had the clients climb toward each camp to help them become acclimated to the difficulties of climbing at high altitudes. The traffic of inexperienced climbers on the hill made me uneasy. I had a feeling that the trip would end in disaster that wasn’t aided by a lack of cooperation with many of the other guided expeditions. The Taiwanese and South African teams who refused to string rope up the treacherous Lhotse Face caused the biggest problems. I was also beginning to worry about the deteriorating condition of my team. My problems with the...