May 30, 2006

Lincoln Hall Survives Everest

It has become another 'bad' season on Everest—fifteen climbers dead so far, including skier Tomas Olsson, who was skiing the mountain's north face.

And then this: following a successful summit bid, climber Lincoln Hall collapsed around 8800 meters, struck by cerebral edema, one of the deadliest of the many high-altitude disorders.

Sherpas tried for nine hours to get him off the upper mountain, but eventually gave up for their own safety. Hall was left on the mountain, and word was sent to his family and to his native Australia that he had perished.

Seven a.m. the next morning: climbers on the way to Everest's summit found Hall alive. His first words were reportedly, "I imagine you are surprised to see me here."

Miraculously, Hall had survived a night alone on Everest. With the aid of fresh sherpas, he was assisted down the mountain to base camp, where, aside from frostbite, he quickly recovered.

It is strange, isn't it, to read these stories? Every year, Everest's call lures climbers to the deaths, and still they come.

If the opportunity came for you to go to Everest, would you be able to resist? Would you go, but tell yourself (as writer John Krakauer did) you're only going to climb a little way above base camp? Or would you take your best shot, come what may?

Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow


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