JOHN AMATT, President, One Step Beyond, of Canmore,
Alberta, Canada, an organization which promotes adventure holidays for executive and
professional groups, is a consulting associate of The Banff Centre School of Management
and previously the business manager of the Canadian Mount Everest Expedition. A member of
the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, he has over 25 years of mountain experiences
and has led major expeditions to Norway, Peru, Nepal, China and the Canadian Arctic. As
manager of the Canadian Mount Everest expedition, he was responsible for generating the $1
million of funds and products required to mount the successful assault.
It is a real pleasure to be with you on this climb. We are going to strive for the
top of Mount Everest together, and along the way well learn some very important lessons.
Before weve finished, you are going to stand on top of the world.
In many presentations over the past year, Ive often been asked, what is it
you think up there on the mountain tops, as high as high can go? After all the
exhilaration and the exhaustion, after the self-congratulations and the photographs, what
you think of is, well, what you think of is, How the heck do get down again in one
piece! Because you cannot stay on top forever.
You have to come down again to apply the lessons learned on the glint to other
fields of endeavor in the valleys of your life, and you also wonder about the next
stepliterally and figuratively. Because, from the top you are able to gaze out
metaphorically across untold new fields of endeavor, of untouched challenge. And having
gained that particular peak, you have a much clearer view of what lies beyond,
Were going to share an amazing adventure together this morning. And as Ron
Barbaro said, it is an adventure that has direct relevance to the challenge of our daily
Over the years since its discovery in the mid 19th century, Everest has become a
symbol of everyones ultimate goalthe supreme example of mankinds
striving to reach the top. In a very real sense, we all have our own Everest's
to climb. They will not necessarily be true
mountains, but we are all striving for summits of endeavor in our personal and
professional Lives. And some of then, will be Everest's in their significance
and dimensions. Along the way, we will encounter difficulties; we will slip, fall, recover
and climb again. And in the process of striving for the topof overcoming these
difficultieswe will be forced to push back the invisible barriers to growth, and
we will discover our real selves and our real potential. In short, we will come to
understand our strengths and to accept our limitations.
We will come to appreciate the person we really are! And this is
because, unless we know who we really are, we can never know what we are really capable
On our expedition to Everest, we experienced many setbacks. Setbacks may, in fact, be too mild a
term. What Im talking about are defeats that seem to crack the soul. As you will soon hear, during our assault our team
was to experience bald, naked horror. It would force some of our team to reconsider
their commitment. It forced every one of us to weigh risk against reward, and to
re-evaluate the entire value system upon which our lives were based. It would force us all to dig to the very roots of
our being to find the resources to continue.
In the face of such adversity, I felt for a time that we would not, could not, take
on the mountain in a year that saw some of the worst weatherand most dangerous
climbing conditionsever recorded on Everest. I learned
differently, and in the
course of that lesson, I learned that we must, and can, draw upon every ounce of energy
and commitment to cope with the steps backwardthe setbacks that always seem to dash
with the desire to move forward and upward. This is an important lesson for us all in the
challenging world of the 1980s, Just as on Everest, we are faced today with a very
difficult and unpredictable environment and must commit every resource if we are to
survive in the years ahead. But, it is a challenge that we should not fear. In fact, we
should welcome it because such challenge represents the very essence of human life and
growth on earth.
There are other lessons, too, from which we can learn on our climb to the top.
First, and perhaps not so obviously, we must be prepared. In the excitement of departure,
many climbers neglected to prepare themselves for the eventualities that ultimately took
their lives. So we should attempt to anticipate every incident that might befall us and
plan to address it. In reality, given the uncertainty of the business environment in which
we must operate in the 1980s, our plans will not be implemented in full. But the process of planning will increase our
mental preparation for devising and adapting solutions to whatever difficulties confront
us along the way.
Throughout our climb, we will go further and further, higher and higher, always
challenging one step further into the unknown. Every horizon gained will open the door to
a broader horizon and a higher plateau. In climbing a mountain, as in striving for success
in life, we cannot see what lies beyond if we fail to reach the top of that first summit.
And if we cannot see what lies beyond, we cannot unlock the door to our full potential. So
in choosing our objectives, we must set goals that are realisticgoals that are
attainablebut at the same time goals that will stretch us in their attainment. Only
by going one step at a time will we find the confidence to go that one step beyond.
In striving to go one step beyond,
we must also realize that teamwork is an essential ingredient in achieving success.
Nobody reaches the top without it! To clearly understand and define what I mean by the
team, we must often look far behind the scenes.
On our expedition, the team involved not only the climbers and the Sherpas who
helped carry our supplies, but also the hundreds of companies who supported us and the
thousands of employees of those companies who worked long and hard to perfect the
equipment that kept us alivethe ropes, oxygen systems, tents, food, radiosand
the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who hoped for us and lent us their
prayers. The little first grade kids who sent us good luck letters with drawings of
pyramid-shaped mountains with spider-like figures hanging on ropes on the sides of
vertical precipices and the huge flag streaming from the summit. They were all part of the
team and their encouragement kept us going when the times were tough, and dont
forget the people back homethe real heroes of the expeditionthe wives,
children and friends whose images we carried in our minds and whose love and support
gave us the push to move ahead when the very idea of movement was crushing, were all part
of the team, They shared our success, and we owe it to them to give them our recognition
In climbing your Everest, you will also need teamwork, and you will also come to
respect the role of interdependenceof finding out that we are capable of great
things when we work together. On a mountain, you must always count on someone for
support, to hold the rope if you slip; because you know that that same person is also
counting on you. In the whole history of Everest, only one climber has ever made it to the
top alone, without the help of others. Believe me, he was the exception to the rule.
Another key element of teamwork that is often neglected is the role of equality.
People are special and deserve to be treated as such. They all have their special needs
and their special strengths. They all contribute to success in their own special way. And
without their special contributionstheir personal pieces of the jigsaw
puzzlewithout everyones contribution, the picture cannot be complete and the
goal of the highest peak cannot be attained.
On Everest, the Nepalese Sherpas who climbed with us were paid $2.00 per day. but
they also received $3,000 worth of equipment and clothing, which they sell after the
climb. They were employees of ours, but we treated them as equals. Because we knew from
history, and from personal experience, that we could not climb the mountain without them.
They were an integral part of the team and we wanted them to share in our successin
the success of the whole team. To achieve this, we respected their experience, strength,
loyalty, and their incredible commitment. We included them in the decision-making process.
We actively sought their advice. They became friends, equals and no longer employees; and
when the time came to go to the top, they went with us. We wanted them to share in this
ultimate expression of the success of teamwork and of equality.
On your climb to the top, you will also have to adapt to changing conditions. In
doing so, you will have to let go of the old techniques and old beliefs, and to invent new
solutions to old problems. As times change, you will no longer be able to do things the
same way you have done them in the past. You will have to use your creativity and powers
of innovation to overcome the problems that the changing environment will present.
On Everest, we were forced to confront change every day. Everyday the ice cracked
and avalanches thundered. Every day we were forced to find new solutions, new routes
around difficulties that would still make it possible for us to reach the top. Every day
we were forced to adapt. But in this process of adaptation, of pushing forward into the
unknown, we began to discover the first glimmerings of our real
potential, of the power
of teamwork, of working together as equals in achieving success on the top of the world.
One of the biggest barriers in your quest for the top will be the fear of the
unknown, that irritating psychological fear that limits your
activity to spheres of your
previous experience and knowledge. It is an understandable fear because our societys
perceived need for securitythat human safety net in which we all livemakes
it difficult to leave behind the structures with which we are familiar. But in becoming a
captive to this human safety net, we run the real risk of limiting our growth, of failing
to reach that ultimate potential of which we are all capable.
On Everest, we had to confront this reality every day. Every day, we journeyed into
the unknown. Every day we knocked down mental barriers that threatened to limit our upward
progress. It wasnt easy! We faced death, deterioration, and despondency. We were
forced to dig deep, And in the process, we discovered that we were capable of more than we
had ever thought possible, that we had the resources to keep going no matter what the
come with me
lets go back together to the summer of 1982.
Everest sits on the border between Nepal and Tibet, getting there is half the fun.
After five years of planning, with support from over 150 companies, our expedition sets
out from Kathmandu on the long, long walk to base camp. Twenty tons of equipment, carried
by yaks and porters, go with us. Our walk to Everest is 150 miles. Kathmandu is at 4,000
feet; Everest base camp is at 17,000 feet; So actually, well be climbing 13,000 feet
just to reach the foot of the mountain, and that s before the climbing starts. In fact,
because of all the ups and downs involved in the roller coaster landscape, its
actually some 44,000 vertical feet of ups and some 30,000 vertical feet of downs, Because
of this, the approach is itself a valuable part of the conditioning for an Everest climb.
Training for Everest is a slow process. In fact, mountaineers are not
that fit as a rule. They are determined, egocentric; they have stamina and a
kind of pigheadedness; that they get in shape slowly. Its not like an athlete getting
ready for a 100-yard dash. You train for that, peak before the race, and its all over in
10 seconds or less.
On Everest, you must come prepared for an eight week assault. It will take eight
weeks to get from base camp at 17.000 feet to the top at 29.000, feet at the altitude
where the jet planes fly. And during that period, your body is actually deteriorating bit
by bit. So when we arrive at base camp, we try to be slightly overweight. Then as our
bodies start to deteriorate, the first thing well lose is fat, and only later will
we lose muscle tissue.
We leave Kathmandu on July 25; 16 climbers, two support personnel, two doctors, a
journalist and 39 Sherpa porters. It is the monsoon season, every day torrential rains
turn the trails into raging torrents. And life is complicated by the fact that we have to
coordinate the transport of all that equipment and food along this torturous route,
multitudes of porters struggling under 60 pound loads travel with . And as if we
need more problems, there are the leechesinsidious little creatures that snuggle
down in your boots and merrily suck your blood as you walk along. They wriggle down
through the lace holes in your boots, down through the knitting of your socks and into the
restaurant between your toes where they gorge themselves until they burst, At night we
find our feet are a mass of blood, where the leech has burst under the constant pounding
of our feet along the trail. But, if youll excuse the pun, we did become quite
attached to the little crittersor them to us! After all, they are a part of the
mountain to be climbed, part of the impossible dream.
The scenery is incredible in Nepal, awesome, a silent and ancient place. We take
three weeks to get to base camp by design. We want some extra time to live with the idea
of the climb, and our bodies need time to adapt to the increasing elevations, It is also a
time for personal questioning. We are wondering how we are going to handle this mammoth
task. I dictate to my diary, which is a tape recorder, thoughts about death, somebody
elses, my own, and what would happen to my family if I dont come hack.
After two weeks on the trail we arrive at Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa capital of the
Khumbu region around Everest. The Sherpa people came from Tibet four centuries ago. They
are a small race of rugged people who live high in the Himalaya, and they are an example
to us all! Without the Sherpa people, we would still be waiting for the first successful
climber to reach the top of Everest, because they have a much greater capacity for hard
work and for climbing at extreme altitudes, than western mountaineers.
The Sherpas live their lives at altitudes above 12,000 feet, and are perfectly
acclimatized to these elevations. I live at
4,000 feet at Banff in the Canadian Rockies, and am permanently adapted to this height. So
the Sherpas have an 8,000 foot advantage over me, which they use to great advantage on
Everest, Perhaps just as important, however, they know how to handle hardship. There are
no cars, no roads in this precipitous land. They travel everywhere on foot, and everything
they need is carried on their backs. When the going gets tough on Everest, therefore, it
will be just another day in a long series of tough days, another day, another
In learning to respect and love these incredible people, I begin to realize what
weve given up in our society through our quest for comforts: cars, soft seats,
water beds, central heating. Civilization has cost us a heavy price, because we have lost
much of the psychological ability to withstand hardship. When we face
tendency is to feel sorry for ourselves. In the same situation, a Sherpa would just
shrug and take it in stride. So, while Sherpas may not be technically good at climbing
mountainsthat is as good as the western mountaineers who hire them as
portersthey do have incredible endurance and strength, and a fatalistic attitude
that is, perhaps, a lesson to us all.
The religion of the Sherpas is total. Four days below Everest and in sight of the
great mountain, a Buddhist monastery at Thyangboche welcomes us. The Lama gives us his
blessing and distributes good luck charms. It is an important ceremony because the Sherpas
regard Everest in religious terms. It is an honor for them to walk on this
mountainthis goddess, mother of the earth.
Back in 1977, five years before our climb, the Lama at Thyangboche had predicted
that 1982 would be a very bad year on Everest, He told us that he saw many deaths. We had
lived with this prediction throughout our preparations, hoping and praying and doubting
its accuracy because we knew that despite the danger, we could not turn our backs on the
challenge the mountain presented, The Lama was to be tragically right. There were 11
people destined to die on the mountain that year, and in the Sherpa villages scores of
people would die of an unknown ailment. Western doctors could not
pinpoint the cause of
death: they just collapsed and died.
After the ceremony, the Lama told us that he had once seen a strange light coming
down from the sky. The light came down on a village called Lukla and there was tragedy in
the village the next day. I prayed that the Lamas strange light wouldnt come
to rest on us.
After the ceremony, we climb to the village of Pangboche at 14,000 feet. It is here
that we say goodbye to the familiar world of flowers and grass and trees and move on into
the sterile world of rock and snow and ice that will be our domain for the next two
months. As we move above the snow line, I cant believe how much I miss the smell of
grass and trees, it will be eight weeks before I can smell the flowers again.
Nuptse is the mountain that hides Everest from view for a time, We had tried to
climb this sister peak of Everest the previous year, but had abandoned the climb after a
rock fall had buried a camp, and a lot of precious equipment, under blocks as big as
houses. We are very close to base camp now.
August 15, Everest base camp and the reshaping of some fantasies begins, because
the site is badly polluted. Since 1951, when expeditions first approached Everest through
Nepal, this has been the takeoff point for two to three climbs per year, each expedition
with up to 100 men. Each expedition here for two to three months. And, it all lies on an
unyielding bed of frozen glacial ice, Here we find 30 years of pollution and a lot of
human waste, the mark of man on the pristine mountain.
And very quickly, just about every one of us gets sick from drinking polluted
waterdiarrhea and a lot of stomach ailments. And the sickness stays. Its not
possible to recuperate at 17,000 feet and higher. The highest permanent human settlement
to the world is in Peru at 14,000 feet, and its virtually impossible to live for
long periods at a higher altitude. Between bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, I think of the
deterioration of the human body at these heightsthe lack of oxygen in the air cuts
down your effectiveness to less than 50 percent, the air is so dry you lose four litres of
fluid from your body every day. And youve got to replace that liquid with water
melted from snow, four litres a day for 60 people, 240 litres of water that must be melted
from snow. Without water, muscle tissue and body tissue break down, along with fat, and
you progressively get weaker and weaker. The air is so thin it gives you a sore throat
from panting hard, and it becomes hard to swallow anything like solid food You just feel
rotten all the time, Its like growing old very fast, or like having the flu for
eight weeks while you struggle with fading strength to overcome the mountains
Looking at Everest from base camp, you know that the mountain will always be there,
it wont change. What changes are the defenses you have to overcome to get up there,
and with what kind of equipment, and how many people. In the sport of
keep testing the mountain, and ourselves, in new ways, with more difficult routes of
ascent, increased risk, or less support systems. And that says something about the human
species. We thrive on impossible dreams. When the dreams become possible, we challenge
ourselves by fashioning new, even more difficult dreams. And we discover
At base camp the Sherpas fashion an altar. They pray a lot as they go up the
mountain. Theyve been there before and know the dangers. And remember, their Lama
had predicted tragedy. We pray a lot, too, but we have also designed equipment to
withstand every test. Like the tentits made of bullet-proof nylon; it has a
plywood floor and weighs over 100 poundsbut its a mini-fortress. It has
adjustable legs, front and back, so it can literally be pitched anywhere on the mountain.
It will be a real haven. even when winds hit 100 miles per hour. Even avalanches can bury
these tents, making them into snow caves, but theyll hold up just fine. We hope! It
took two years and seven prototypes to develop this tent, talk about preparation!
Another strategy that we have adopted is to bring along a professional cook, but
even his dishes do not make us feel like eating very much, not up here, Given all of our
sickness, the most important place in base camp is the outhouse, but this has to be
built over a crevasse and have to swing in and out on a rope. Since the ice has a way of
shifting, the walls have a tendency of collapsing, or we might fall into the crevasse.
What a way to go. Talk about a straight flush!
August 17, the Khumbu icefallthe gateway to Everest2,000 feet high and
two and one-half miles long, a moving mass of broken blocks of icebig as
cathedralswhich tumble down from the upper part of the mountain, Its
actually a waterfall of frozen ice, moving steadily at about three feet a day, but it
can also surge under you, 30 feet in a few seconds. Many people have died in the past
during these surges. In fact, two men die on Everest for every one that reaches the
summit, Its a frightening statistic.
But if we dont accept this challenge, and run the risk we know that we
wont climb Everest, We wont reach the top. Well miss the chance of
winning this Olympic Gold Medal of Mountaineering.
The problem is to find a route which will reduce the danger to acceptable limits,
because weve got to go through this honor again and again, carrying supplies up the
mountain to Camp One, and then further to Camps Two, Three, and Four. If the danger of the
moving ice isnt enough, the steep slopes on both sides of the icefall are an
avalanche hell. So, we have two problems; the moving glacier, crevasse, and
ice towers under foot, and avalanches that fall like congealed thunder from above.
We try to minimize the danger by getting up at 2 a.m., stumbling out into the
frozen darkness and across to the kitchen tent where we force down some tea. Then
its out into the night, finding our way by the light of our headlamps. The job is to
build a path up through the icefall, using ladders and ropes. At least we cant see
how deep the crevasses are in the dark. We work our tails off all day and return
exhausted, The next morning, we find our ladders broken and bent by the moving ice.
Daily we find our ropes snapped by the opening crevasses, ice towers collapse across our
route. But the trail has got to be maintained; supplies have to be carried up the
Camp One is at 19.600 feet, above the icefall at last, After many trips through the
icefall, our stockpile of supplies is building up. On August 30, we occupy Camp One for
the first time and move on up into the long winding western cwm, a Welsh name for valley,
that guards the upper part of Everest.
One day, Im coming down through the icefall. Its been along hard day.
Im tired and its hot under the intense sun. Suddenly, I hear a
thud behind me. I am fastened to a safety rope with a sliding attachment. I
know something has collapsed. I look back and see the ice cliff coming down 100 feet
above me. I start to run but I know Im tied to the rope. I can run only so far. I
reach an anchor point and look back again, my heart is pounding in my ears, but the ice
has stopped. It didnt reach me. If it had kept on going, I was dead. I am lucky
August 31, six Sherpas are in the icefall with five of our climbers. Theyre
having problems with the new snowfall and radio Camp One for help. Suddenly, Camp One is
hit by a wall of air, several tents are flattened. Five thousand feet above our climbers,
a mile-wide avalanche has broken loose from the west shoulder of Everest, blocks of ice
the size of railroad cars smash down, When the team digs itself out, three
missing, dead. Only one body is found, Pasang Sona, 40 years old, a veteran of many
Himalayan climbs. Two others will remain in their frozen graves until the glacier moves
down to warmer elevations and melts, releasing its frozen sacrifice.
September 2, the body of Pasang Sona is carried down and cremated on a barren
mountainside six miles below Everest. During the simple but emotion-charged ceremony, a
runner arrives from the mountain with bad news. That morning, a group of climbers has
returned to the icefall to repair the damage caused by the
avalanche, a major surge has
occurred, and now Cameraman Blair Griffiths lies dead, crushed by a collapsing ice tower.
Another body is carried down the mountain and cremated. We have no other choice. We are
three weeks away from Kathmandu. Nepalese law forbids burial on its soil, and the weather
is too bad to allow helicopter flights. And this is cremation in its rawest terms; where
we must stand and watch and smell and sense as a human body
disappears before our eyes.
September 4, four men have died on the mountain in two days. The shock is absolute,
the emotional stress is awesome. There is a sense that Everest will not allow us even the
smallest victory, that the mountain will not be climbed. The members of the team are
divided, six feel that they must leave. They have responsibilities at home that they
cannot ignore. Their value systems dictate their decision. Ten others decide to stay; all
the Sherpas will go on.
I dont find out about the decision to abandon the climb by the six key
members of the expedition until later. I have been down at the village of Namche Bazaar
to radio reassurance to the survivors families. When I get back to base camp, I hear the
arguments for staying. We have 120 loads of equipment and food above the icefall, If we
can adapt and change our route to the original 1953 route pioneered by Hillary and
Tensing, it will require only half the supplies and manpower to reach the summit. More
importantly, it would mean only one more carry though the dangers of the icefall, past
the site where two men lie buried. We can still make a shot at it.
September 16, the climb begins again after two weeks of bad weather. The route
through the icefall has to be rebuilt, ladders that have fallen into widening crevasses
have to be recovered. The icefall is now in even more dangerous condition. It is almost
unjustifiable to pass through.
September 22, Camp Two, below the vast southwest face of Everest, is reached and
secured. The decision is made to close the icefall trail. It is simply too dangerous for
men to maintain the ropes and ladders on a daily basis. There is no going back now, no
more semblance of any kind of safety net, no retreat. The door is firmly bolted behind us.
All energy will be used to try the peak. Eight Canadians and 12
Sherpas (a third of our
original strength) are above the icefall, Everests summit is visible, just 8,000
feet above us. To reach it, we must climb the exposed Lhotse face, which towers 5,000 feet
towards the south col. Here our final camp, Camp Four, will be located, before the summit
team pushes for the top.
At the end of September, Camp Three is established 23,400 feet up the face. Here it
takes six men three hours to erect a tent that it took two men 30 minutes to erect at base
camp. Working with the Sherpas, climbers slowly, step by strenuous step, one foot at a
time, move the ropes up the Lhotse face. Finally, Camp 4 is pitched at 26,000 feet. Here
it takes an hour to put our boots on in the morning. The very act of sitting up after a
night of sleep leaves us exhausted, panting for five minutes and then the climbing
October 1, the winds cut at 100 miles an hour, enough to blow us off our feet. Were
we not secured by safety ropes, we would fall to Our deaths. In the face of such adversity
the team is beaten back to Camp Two. There is talk of quitting. Everyone is wasted, near
the end of their tether. But luck is on our side. The weather improves and somehow the
decision is made to keep going.
October 4 , a change of techniques, adapting to the new conditions, the classic
Alpine style of climbing will replace siege tactics. We must move fast to take advantage
of the good weather. The team opts for a summit attack bypassing the normal Camp Five,
1,500 feet below the summit. The new plan is for the summit team to climb 5000 feet, a
vertical mile, to Camp Four in one day and then try the final 3,000 foot ascent the next
day. It is an unheard of tactic, 8,000 feet up and 8,000 feet downan incredible
16,000 foot round trip in two daysand this at above 20,000 feet.
Three climbers, Skreslet, Gallagher and Read, along with two Sherpas, struggle up
the Lhotse face once again, but Gallaghers oxygen equipment malfunctions at 25,000
feet and he turns back.
October 5, two climbers are now at Camp Four, but there is only enough oxygen for
one to make the final climb. Laurie Skreslet is chosen to go because he is in the best
conditionteamwork makes the obvious choice. There is no room for ego or
disappointment. At 4 am, Skreslet moves out with Sherpas Sungdare and Lhakpa Dorje. In the
darkness lit only by the light of their headlamps, they climb sheer green ice. From the
south summit, the route follows the final ridge for 400 yards, only a few feet wide, The
summit team must walk a tight rope between a 10,000 foot sheer drop into Tibet on the
right, and an 8,000 foot drop into Nepal on the left. And the ridge is covered with
unstable snow, at a 70 degree slope to the left!
At 9:15 am, after five hours of climbing, the team is on the summit! From the top,
they can see to where the earth curvesacross vast new fields of untracked endeavor.
For Skreslet, he is the first Canadian to stand on top of the world; for Sungdare, it is
his third time to Everests Pinnacle, Thirty minutes later, the team starts down.
October 6, the weather holds. Pat Morrow and Alan Burgess, along with two Sherpas,
move to Camp Four. The next morning, they head for the top. But at 28,000 feet, Alan
Burgess oxygen system freezes up. He has a choice. He can take a working system from
one of the Sherpas and go on, But Burgess knows that the climb would not have been
possible. Without the Sherpas and the summit is also important to them. They have earned
the right to go all the way, perhaps more so than the Climbers themselves. Consequently,
he rejects the option and heads down, turning his back on glory on that Olympic
At 11:30a.m. Pema Dorje and Lhakpa Tshering follow Morrow onto Everests
summit. The team has done the near impossible. We have placed six people on the top of the
world, despite all the adversity and setbacks.
Everestthe ultimate dreamand the ultimate reality. Near the summit,
frozen forever in the snow and ice, is the body of a 50-year-old West German woman,
Hanalore Schmaltz, who made the climb but died on the way down. And how many other spirits
of climbers walk these silent places?
Everestthe ultimate challengealways the challenge. The men who made it
to the top know full well that they could not have climbed without those who blazed the
trail, who gave them the footsteps to follow, the ladders, the ropes, the emotional
support. On Everest, the triumph is more than a personal
accomplishment; it is a triumph
of team effort. When a climber stands on the summit, all men and women stand with him.
And then theres getting back down. Always the danger of relaxing. The climb
is done, the day is won, but one false step can lead to more tragedy.