Scott Fisher is a mountain climber who, at the age of 20, has proved himself a true professional in conquering mountain peaks. But most of him is known for the tragedy on Everest in 1996, when 8 people from three expeditions, including Fisher himself, died during the day.
The beginning of climbing enthusiasm
In childhood, we dream of the most heroic professions. An astronaut, fireman, rescue worker, pilot, ship captain - they are associated with a certain risk and therefore look so romantic in the eyes of a child. Scott Fisher already at the age of 14 knew that he would be a climber. For two years he took climbing courses. Then he graduated from the school of guides and became one of the best professional mountaineering trainers. During these years, he was actively engaged in the conquest of high mountains.
In 1982, he moved to Seattle with his wife Jean. The children of Fisher, Andy and Katie Rose were born here.
The Conquest of Lhotse
Scott Fisher, a top-level mountain climber, was the first American high-altitude mountaineer to conquer the peak of Lhotse, which ranks fourth in height.
The "southern peak" (as the name of the eight-thousander is translated) is located in the Himalayas, on the border of China and Nepal. It is divided into three peaks. Today, several routes have been laid to them, but the conquest of Lhotse remains incredibly difficult. Walking along the South Wall is considered almost impossible. Only a team of Soviet climbers in 1990 was able to do this. Seventeen people worked harmoniously in order to get to the top only two of them were able to.
Energetic and entrepreneurial, Scott Fisher in 1984 opens his own company to conduct high-mountain tours. At first, this work was of little interest to the climber - the main thing in his life was climbing. The company helped him do what he loved. For a long time, "Mountain Madness" remained an almost unknown tourist company. Everything changed in the 90s, when the conquest of Everest became a cherished dream of ordinary tourists. Experienced alpine climbers became guides accompanying those wishing to climb to the top for money. The process of commercializing Everest begins. Companies appear, for a round sum promising to organize an ascent to the top. They took the delivery of the expedition members to the base camp, preparing the participants for the ascent and escort along the route. For the opportunity to become one of the conquerors of Everest, those who wished laid out huge amounts - from 50 to 65 thousand dollars. At the same time, the organizers of the expeditions did not guarantee success - the mountain might not have been submitted.
Scott Fisher Expedition to Everest. Reasons for its organization
The success of the commercial expeditions of other climbers, including Rob Hall, made Fisher think about the route to the Himalayas. As the manager of the company Karen Dickinson later said, this decision was dictated by time. Many customers wanted to get to the highest point in the world. Scott Fisher, Everest for whom was not the most difficult route, by then seriously thought that it was time to change life. An expedition to the Himalayas would allow him to declare himself and show what his company is capable of. If successful, he could count on new customers who allowed themselves to pay large sums for the opportunity to climb to the top of Everest.
Compared to other climbers whose names didn’t leave the pages of magazines, he was not so famous. Few knew who Scott Fisher was. Everest gave him a chance to become famous in case of success of the expedition "Mountain Madness". Another reason that made the climber go on this tour was an attempt to fix his image. He had a reputation as a brave and reckless high-altitude man. Most wealthy clients would not like his risky style. The expedition included Sandy Hill Pittman, a newspaper reporter. Her report on the climb would be a great advertisement for Scott Fisher and his company.
Events of 1996 on Everest
A lot has been said about the tragedy that happened in the Himalayas. The chronology of events was compiled from the words of surviving members of three expeditions and witnesses. 1996 was one of the most tragic for the conquerors of Everest - 15 of them never returned home. Eight people died in one day: Rob Hall and Scott Fisher, expedition leaders, three members of their groups, and three climbers from the Indo-Tibetan border service.
Problems began at the beginning of the ascent. Sherpas (local residents-guides) did not manage to establish all the railings, which greatly slowed down the climb. Numerous tourists also interfered, on this day also decided to storm the peaks. As a result, the strict climbing schedule was violated. Those who knew how important it was to turn back in time returned to the camp and remained alive. The rest continued to rise.
Rob Hall and Scott Fisher were far behind the rest of the participants. The latter was in poor physical condition before the expedition, but hid this fact from others. His tired appearance was noticed during the ascent, which was completely uncharacteristic for an energetic and active climber.
By four o’clock in the afternoon they reached the summit, although according to the schedule they should have already started their descent by two o’clock. By this time, a light veil covering the mountains had turned into a blizzard. Scott Fisher came down with Sherp Lopsang. Apparently, at this time his condition worsened sharply. It is assumed that the climber began swelling of the brain and lungs, and a strong stage of depletion began. He persuaded the Sherpa to go down to the camp and bring help.
Anatoly Bukreev, guide of “Mountain Madness”, saved three tourists that day, taking them to the camp alone. He twice tried to climb to Fisher, having learned from the returning Sherpa about the climber's condition, but the zero visibility and strong wind did not allow him to reach the leader of the group.
In the morning, the Sherpas reached Fisher, but his condition was already so bad that they made a difficult decision to leave him in place, making him comfortable. They sent Makalu Go to the camp, whose condition allowed him to do this. Later, Bukreev got to Fisher, but the 40-year-old climber had died from hyperemia by that time.
The reasons for the tragedy that happened with Fisher and other climbers
Mountains are one of the most insidious places on the planet. Eight thousand meters is the height at which the human body can no longer recover. Any, the most insignificant reason can lead to a terrible tragedy. On that day, climbers were catastrophically unlucky on Everest. They were far behind the strict schedule due to the large number of tourists who were simultaneously on the route. The time when it was necessary to turn back was lost. Those who climbed to the top later than all, on the way back fell into a strong blizzard and did not find the strength to go down to the camp.
The open graves of Everest
Scott Fisher, whose body Anatoly Bukreev found frozen on May 11, 1996, was left at the site of his death. It is almost impossible to lower the dead from such a height. A year later, again returning to Nepal, Anatoly Bukreev gave the last honors to his friend, whom he considered America's best high-altitude climber. He put stones over Fisher's body and stuck an ice ax over his makeshift grave.
Scott Fisher, whose body, along with the bodies of several deceased conquerors of Everest, was buried right at the place of death, could be lowered to the foot in 2010. Then it was decided, as far as possible, to clear the slopes of the mountain from the debris accumulated over many years and try to lower the bodies of the dead. The widow of Rob Hall abandoned this idea, and Fisher's wife Ginny hoped that her husband's body could be cremated at the foot of the mountain that killed him. But the Sherpas were able to find and lower the remains of two other climbers. Scott Fisher and Rob Hall still remain on Everest.
Reflection of the tragedy on Everest in literature and cinema
Participants in the incident, journalist John Krakauer, climber Anatoly Bukreev, Beck Withers and Lin Hammelgaard wrote books in which they expressed their point of view.
Cinema could not stay away from such a promising topic as the 1996 tragedy on Everest. In 1997, a novel by John Krakaeur was filmed. He formed the basis of the film "Death on Everest."
In 2015, the picture “Everest” was released. The head of the Mountain Madness expedition was played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Scott Fisher outwardly looked a little different (he was blond), but the actor was able to fully convey the energy and charm that the climber radiated. Rob Hall was played by Jason Clark. You can also see Keira Knightley, Robin Wright and Sam Worthington in the picture.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Scott Fisher in the movie "Everest") belongs to the category of actors whose skill grows in front of the audience. Over the past two years, he managed to please his fans with an excellent game in the films “Stringer” and “Left-Handed”. The tragedy of Everest was no exception. The film received high marks from viewers and critics. Climbers also responded positively, noting only a few minor errors in showing people's behavior in conditions of oxygen starvation.
Is it worth the dream of human life?
The desire to be at the highest point in the world is understandable. But Scott Fisher and Rob Hall, professionals of the highest level, showed weakness and went about the ambitions of their customers. And the mountains do not forgive mistakes.