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1996 Everest Disaster Survivor Retraces Climb to Make Peace with the Mountain

21 Apr

Back then, Beidleman was working as a guide under his close friend and seasoned mountaineer Scott Fischer. Fischer died on that mountain and was buried there. Beidleman said he never truly understood what happened and that the tragedy nagged at him.

Neal Beidleman

Neal Beidleman with Everest Photographs

Fingers were pointed in numerous directions and many were blamed for what happened that day but there were only words of praise for Beidleman, who went up as a mountaineer and came down a hero. Beidleman himself doesn’t see it that way.

For years, Beidleman was in high demand to speak about the lessons he had learned on Everest, about team building, about taking risks and living with the consequences, and about how disasters are rarely caused by one single action or one single person but often a cascading series of bad luck and bad choices. He also talked about second chances.On Everest, even the smallest of details matter. Every footstep holds the possibility of disaster.

It’s the kind of place where really catastrophic things can happen and you can’t see them coming.Part of the problem is the air. At altitudes like this — the Everest peak in 29,028 feet — the oxygen is so thin the brain gets foggy and judgments cloud.

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