Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 382 pages.

The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest - G. Weston DeWalt, Anatoli Boukreev

It really is difficult to say when things had started going wrong for the expedition, but reading about the decisions to take shortcuts with acclimatising people to altitude does not make it seem like Fischer really knew what he was doing. I like Fischer, but much like with Hall I have no understanding for commercially driven decisions that endanger other people.

"By planning to go initially to Lukla at 2,850 meters, Fischer was honoring a commonly held maxim: start below 3,040 meters and walk up, slowly. This routine is widely recommended by high-altitude specialists and has been incorporated in most of the more popular trekking and climbing guides for the Himalaya.

But, Fischer, just before the expedition began, announced a change of plans. Instead of helicoptering the clients to Lukla, he announced he was going to fly them with the expedition gear that had not gone with Boukreev and Ngima Sherpa to Syangboche on March 29.

Syangboche was the same village to which Boukreev and Ngima Sherpa had flown four days earlier. For them the increase in altitude from Kathmandu had not been at all troublesome, but for the clients, the dramatic jump to Syangboche was felt almost immediately. Pittman reported to her NBC World Wide Web site, “Almost everyone on the team is feeling the effects of our sudden jump in elevation. We’re out of breath just walking around.""


(Note: Syangboche is at 3780m)


"Most of the Mountain Madness expedition members had not reacted dramatically to the slight increase in elevation they had made from Gorak Shep to Base Camp. Their resting respiratory rates had returned to normal, but any exertion caused a rapid and disconcerting shortness of breath for most team members. One of the members has said that at Base Camp, with only half the oxygen available to her at sea level, she felt as if she were working on one lung and walking around in a two-martini fog. A few of the team members were still struggling with nausea and headaches, but none were complaining too loudly, wanting to put the best picture on their condition, not wanting to “talk about the fact that they felt like shit,” as one base-camper described the situation.

Fischer, who was often heard to say to his team members, “It’s attitude, not altitude,” seemed to most of them to be strong, without any apparent difficulties. But according to Jane Bromet, there was a considerable difference between those perceptions and Fischer’s physical reality. “He’d get up in the morning and . . . it would take him about five minutes to finally stand up. . . . Scott was exhausted.” And, she said, he was taking Diamox, 125 mg every other day, which suggests he was addressing the challenge of acclimatization."

So, what I am getting from this is that Fischer himself may not have been in the condition required to make the ascend. And this is "only" at Base Camp.