Hillary Step

I'm a gigantic Frontline Nerd.  The PBS Show  mixed their Drama-Documentary style with a Man v. Nature theme for their 2008 Everest piece that nobody seems to have heard of: Storm Over Everest

For those that don't follow mountain climbing stories in the AP, the program recounts the most famous ascent after Edmund Hillary did it first back in 1953.  The difference here was that the '96 treks became famous for becoming the world's worst climbing disaster after a freak storm hit the mountain as numerous groups descended.  Climatologists frequently cite the low-oxygen environment as the most serious obstacle facing human beings on the mountain – the normal figure is 1/3 the regular, sea level amount of oxygen saturation at 25,000 feet. This specific storm apparently siphoned another 14% of the oxygen from the already thin atmosphere due to the extreme low pressure of the weather system.  Category 5 hurricane winds, temperatures routinely dipping below -50 F, and zero visibility conditions sound like weather statistics until you're huddled into a mass on the Hillary Step trying to figure out how not to die.  There's no "I cut the rope" moment in this as there was in the more heralded Touching the Void – it just steadily  becomes a nightmare for those clinging to the side of a big, cold rock.


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The most famous casualty of the expedition was Rob Hall, who radioed his wife from the mountain to tell her he was going to be fine after remaining behind to rescue another climber.  His colleagues believe he knew he wasn't going to make it down, but wanted to speak to her one last time.

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