The 1996 Everest Disaster and Decision-Making - 1391 Words | Essay Example (2023)

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Krakauer’s Point of View
  3. Analysis of Hall and Fischer’s Actions
  4. Analysis of Boukreev’s Actions
  5. Consequences of the 1996 Everest Disaster
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works Cited
We will write a custom Essay on The 1996 Everest Disaster and Decision-Making specifically for you for only $11.00 $9.35/page 807 certified writers online Learn More


The tragedy that occurred in 1996 is known nowadays as the Everest disaster. It remains one of the most challenging events to comprehend fully. The roots of the disaster and the accounts of various participants differ severely, leading to the story being partially disjointed. In order to understand the entire weight of the situation, reviewing multiple accounts is a suitable approach that may lead to adequate response and prevention of future tragedies akin to the 1997 Everest disaster. This paper will examine the accounts of Krakauer and other climbers and analyze the decision-making processes of their teams’ leaders from the collective point of view.

Krakauer’s Point of View

Into Thin Air allows a reader to understand Krakauer’s point of view, yet it is not sufficient to realize the full extent of the disaster. First of all, this situation was an organizational catastrophe that put each individual’s decisions up for a careful assessment. Krakauer’s account of the events clearly states that people went to Hall for any decision or emergency (Krakauer 91). However, he had doubts regarding his gas tank reserves before 2:00 PM during the summit day, which he failed to deliver to his team leader (Krakauer 205). Krakauer is an experienced climber who wanted to provide excellent material for his employer, yet it appears that he overestimated his abilities just as the others did. It is much more likely that the presence of a journalist only added pressure to succeed on the guides.

One of the reasons for the unreliability behind Krakauer’s depiction of the events may lie in his lack of accountability and adverse emotions towards Hall and other guides, as his leaders provoked the disaster. Dependency on Hall’s decisions during the final stages of the summit and on Boukreev’s actions in saving other climbers’ lives might have bent Krakauer’s perception of guilt and duty. In turn, Hall and Fischer might have used an inappropriate leadership style to convey their decisions to the team. It is likely that Krakauer, knowing the composition of his team, expected the guides to provide clear instructions and failed to express his concerns in a timely fashion due to this overreliance.

Analysis of Hall and Fischer’s Actions

Alas, this confidence was put on people whose goals and desires were already misplaced due to personal conflicting plans. Later in his book, the journalist-climber reveals that he saw Fischer reporting to his employer regarding the inappropriate decisions made by Boukreev (Krakauer 231). However, this report is of questionable value to Krakauer’s conclusions due to factors that he was unable to see. Boukreev, in his book-response The Climb, explains that both Fischer and Hall were competing for the attention of a journalist, trying to excel at both showmanship, risk-taking, and leading their groups to the top before others (Boukreev and DeWalt 16). It is possible that Fischer was merely trying to appease his employer through this call in a desperate attempt to prevent this ascent from negatively reflecting on his career. This unhealthy environment decisively leads to a major failure, as shown in Hall’s group example.

Hall and Fischer, who died during the ascent, were the leaders of the two groups arriving at the summit on 10 May 1996. They led groups before with great success yet were already known to be highly competitive among themselves (Boukreev and DeWalt 14). Moreover, they did not have sufficient teamwork training and did not know how to transform their managerial approach on the fly (Tempest et al. 1050). Both leaders were more inclined to lead by example and encourage others to follow their success. However, an authoritarian leader is more suitable for a commercial expedition with underskilled climbers rather than a motivational one (Kayes 60). The addition of Boukreev, whose independency was only fueling the guides’ ambitions, made a sure recipe for disaster.

Analysis of Boukreev’s Actions

Krakauer’s point of view also differs from other climbers’ experiences. The primary issue lies in his opinion on Anatoli Boukreev, who did not use gas tanks as instructed, which made his decisions negatively affected by the lack of oxygen (Krakauer 319). With the increase in altitude, the level of oxygen plummets, especially during storms. Boukreev was already known to Krakauer as a terrible team player through his acquaintances’ accounts (Krakauer 174). Fischer was also not keen on having the Russian climber on his team, yet he did not push toward mutual agreement on behalf of safety for the entire group (Kayes 97). This initial hostility might have made explaining decisions to the team more difficult. However, Krakauer admits that Boukreev’s actions were “an incredible display of strength and courage” (234). Despite his negativity towards the Russian guide, Krakauer does not put the guilt for the deaths on Boukreev’s shoulders entirely.

In turn, other climbers’ accounts differ slightly from Krakauer’s depiction of his role in this event. As noted before, he expressed his concerns, yet they were misunderstood due to his and his leaders’ attitude. Anatoli Boukreev describes Krakauer’s behavior as impatience mixed with frustration from having to deal with less experienced climbers (Boukreev and DeWalt 144). Hall and Fischer were trying to compete for the crowd’s attention, putting Krakauer and others into a false sense of an imminent success (Bourkeev and DeWalt 16). The journalist was as much a detrimental factor as the leaders’ incoherent organizational approach. Instead of being critical of the leaders’ actions, he could have helped them with establishing clear communication with each group member, especially due to his personal experience in mountaineering.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More

Boukreev’s actions have caused many controversies due to his seemingly selfish choices. Indeed, Anatoli Boukreev did not wait for the clients to descend alongside him, and he did not use his gas tank (Krakauer 320). However, Boukreev and DeWalt give an extensive and convincing explanation of his actions, stating that “[Bourkeev] foresaw problems […] and positioned himself to be rested and hydrated enough to respond to an emergency” (243). In the end, it was a deciding factor in saving several climbers who were lost, as Boukreev did predict. Moreover, the decision for an independent descent was made by the expedition leader, whose words Krakauer could not have heard firsthand (Boukreev and DeWalt 241). Undoubtedly, as a leader, Boukreev should have communicated his decisions with an entire team to avoid confusion, especially during his absence. The course of action without his temporary departure would have been worse by a large margin.

Consequences of the 1996 Everest Disaster

There have been apparent changes in hikers’ leadership and safety measures taken since the first climb on Everest. Hall and Fischer made the rules of the ascent to the summit clear and explained the rationale sufficiently, yet they did not follow their words due to the lack of persuasion skills and too much emphasis on goal achievement (Useem). Leaders are now making it absolutely clear that following their instructions is paramount, while they also listen to their groups’ needs and adapt to them (Useem). However, there are deficiencies in the team formations that are yet to be resolved. First of all, sherpas remain a cornerstone for heavy work during any ascent (Parker). Moreover, unskilled climbers are still legally allowed to join groups that go to the mount’s summit (Parker). These factors were severely detrimental to the Krakauer group and remain unsolved to this day.


In conclusion, it is understandable that Krakauer and his team had different opinions on the 1997 Everest disaster in the context of a highly stressful situation where their leaders failed to assess the challenge adequately. The deaths of Hall and Fischer show the weight that leaders carry on their shoulders, especially when their teams fail at the organizational structure. Both guides were exceptionally skilled at climbing, yet their teams were too much of a challenge in terms of self-control and instructing others to follow one’s steps. Survivors’ accounts of the event take different views on the necessity of risks, safety measures, and planning. Moreover, there are controversial accusations of Boukreev being selfish in his decisions which do not assess his trail of thoughts in this stressful situation appropriately. Overall, it appears that the lack of leadership skills and improper management during the ascent led to the untimely deaths of eight people. This case continues to serve as a dire reminder to those who fail to see the current situation and not only their final goal.

Works Cited

Boukreev, Anatoli, and Gary Dewalt. The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. St. Martin’s Press, 2018.

Kayes, Christopher D. Destructive Goal Pursuit: The Mt. Everest Disaster. Springer, 2006.

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. Anchor, 2009.

Parker, Laura. “Will Everest’s Climbing Circus Slow Down After Disasters?” National Geographic, 2015. Web.

We will write a custom Essay on The 1996 Everest Disaster and Decision-Making specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More

Tempest, Sue, et al. “In the Death Zone: A study of Limits in the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster.” Human Relations, vol. 60, no. 7, 2007, pp. 1039-1064, doi:10.1177/0018726707081157.

Useem, Michael. “The Leadership Lessons of Mount Everest.” Harvard Business Review, 2001. Web.


What is the summary of Mount Everest 1996 case study? ›

Mount Everest–1996 is the case study for which Roberto is perhaps best known. It explores a March 1996 tragedy in which five mountaineers from two widely-respected teams, including the teams' two leaders, Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, perished while attempting to summit Mount Everest during an especially deadly season.

What were the reasons of the 1996 Everest disaster? ›

The tragedy was a result of what some call Summit Fever and the over-commercialization of the mountain, which led to delays. At the heart of the disaster was a decision made by one of the team's Sherpa guides, his leader's ambitions and their head guide's neglectful work ethic.

Who was to blame for the 1996 Everest disaster? ›

Krakauer blamed the inexperienced climbers and the guides who agreed to lead them–in return for large sums of money–for the tragedy. Ninety-eight other climbers made it to the peak of Everest in the spring of 1996.

What are the lessons from this Mount Everest 1996 case for general managers in business enterprises? ›

The Everest analysis suggests that leaders must pay close attention to how they balance competing pressures in their organizations, and how their words and actions shape the perceptions and beliefs of organization members. In addition, the case provides insight regarding how firms approach learning from past failures.

What is the message in the movie Everest? ›

It's saying that even if your plan falls apart, don't give up on the goal, but stay smart and flexible in the process. Every good climber knows that getting to the top of the mountain, any mountain, is only part of the accomplishment. It's getting back down safely that's the real end result.

How does she decided her feelings at the summit of the Everest? ›

She says that her feelings were indescribable. It was a very great moment and she felt proud of being an Indian.

What are the 4 main causes of death on Mount Everest? ›

Causes of mortality on Everest
  • avalanches - 77 people (25.2%)
  • falls and falls - 71 persons (23,2%)
  • mountain sickness - 36 people (11,7%)
  • exhaustion - 26 people (8,5%)
  • frostbite and freezing - 26 people (8,5%)
  • illnesses (cold, flu, pneumonia) - 25 persons (8,2%)
  • collapses on Khumbu Ice Falls - 15 persons (4,9%)

What are three reasons the top of Everest is called the death zone? ›

Climbers who ascend higher than 26,000 feet on Mount Everest enter the "death zone." In this area, oxygen is so limited that the body's cells start to die, and judgement becomes impaired. Climbers can also experience heart attacks, strokes, or severe altitude sickness.

What is the main reason that the top of Everest called the death zone? ›

In mountaineering, the death zone refers to altitudes above a certain point where the pressure of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life for an extended time span. This point is generally tagged as 8,000 m (26,000 ft, less than 356 millibars [10.5 inHg; 5.16 psi] of atmospheric pressure).

Was Rob's body ever found on Everest? ›

Please don't worry too much." He died shortly thereafter. His body was found on 23 May by mountaineers from the IMAX expedition, and still remains just below the South Summit. In the 1999 New Zealand bravery awards, Hall was posthumously awarded the New Zealand Bravery Star for his actions.

Who found the body on Everest? ›

Five experienced mountaineers were sent high onto Everest with the aim of finding the bodies of one or both climbers. They had a few clues to help them in their search. In 1975, a Chinese climber named Wang Hung-bao had stumbled across 'an English dead' at 26,570 feet (8,100 metres).

What message does he want to convey through the story the summit within? ›

As per his observation, he said that a person requires three qualities to climb any summit. Endurance, persistence, and will power be the three qualities which a person needs to overcome the obstacles of his life. Every person thus enjoys overcoming the obstacles.

What lesson can you learn from the story the summit within? ›

Answer: A climb to its summit makes one experience physical, emotional and spiritual fulfillments. By climbing the 'internal summit' as the author discovers, one can get fuller knowledge of oneself. In all, the climber gets the inspiration to face life's ordeals with determination.

What lesson did peak learn from his Everest experience? ›

Everest! Families will be sucked into Peak's life-altering experience, as he learns life lessons about friendship and family. In the end, Peak must decide whether fame and recognition are more important than doing the right thing for his family and friends.

Why did the author choose the Mount Everest for his goal? ›

The author climbed Mount Everest because it is the highest, the mightiest and has defied many previous attempts.

Is the Everest right or wrong? ›

No article - This is the correct option as it says that no article should be written before the proper noun 'Mount Everest'.

What did the narrator learn by climbing the Mount Everest? ›

Thus, according to the author, his experience as an Everest climber has taught him how to tackle challenges with tenacity. It also taught him to look within himself for an internal pinnacle that is higher than Everest.

What is the summary of the Everest Files? ›

The Everest Files Synopsis

The story of an Everest expedition unlike any other. An expedition that ended with mysterious disappearances ...and death. This is the mystery that eighteen-year-old Ryan Hart sets out to solve. Ryan is on a gap year adventure, working for a medical charity in Nepal.

What is the detailed summary of Everest is not the only peak? ›

This poem talks about taking pride in who we are, no matter how humble our position may be. We all have our own journey to go through and our own goals to reach, even though they might feel small. We should do everything we undertake with dignity and courage and contribute in our own way to the progress of humanity.

What was it about Mount Everest that the author found in trouble? ›

Mount Everest attracted the author because it is the highest, the mightiest and has defied many previous attempts.

What was the 1996 movie about Mount Everest? ›

Into Thin Air: Death on Everest is a 1997 disaster television film based on Jon Krakauer's memoir Into Thin Air (1997). The film, directed by Robert Markowitz and written by Robert J. Avrech, tells the story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated: 22/08/2023

Views: 6154

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.