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In May of 1996, the greatest disaster in mountain climbing occurred on Mount Everest. The climbers stayed too long at the summit. A storm began to blow in. As they made their way down to an intermediate camp, they were engulfed in a full scale blizzard. The wind exceeded 60 knots. The chill factor was more than 100 degrees below zero. With the supplemental oxygen tanks running out and their head lamp batteries running down, they found themselves in the struggle for their lives.


Fortunately, there two experienced guides with this party of eleven. Unfortuately, these two guides chose the wrong path back down the mountain. John Crackhour recently published a book entitled, Into Thin Air. He wrote: for the next two hours this group stagered blindly around in the storm, ever more exhausted and hyberthermic, hoping to blunder across the camp. One of the guides said that it was total chaos. People are wondering all over the place. I am yelling at everyone, trying to get them to follow a single leader. Finally, around 10:00 p.m., I walked over this little rise and I felt like I was standing on the edge of the earth. I could sense a huge void beyond. . . .The group had unwittingly strayed to the eastern most edge of the lip of a 7,000 foot drop, down the Cane Shung Face of Mount Everest.


The group decided to huttle up and wait for a break in the storm. They were without shelter and not much light and oxygen, and with confused leadership. Some of those climbers survived but others died. Yet, the tents of their camp were only 300 yards away from them. A distance they could have covered in less than 15 minutes. They had lost their way.

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