Into Thin Air: Death on Everest

Synopsis: An adaptation of Jon Krakauer's best selling book, "Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster". It attempts to recreate the disastrous events that took place during the Mount Everest climb on May 10, 1996. It also follows Krakauer and portrays what he was going through while climbing the mountain.
Director(s): Robert Markowitz
Production: Sofronski Productions
  1 win.
90 min

My name is Jon Krakauer.

I went on an expedition to write

about climbing Mount Everest.

On May 10, I arrived

on top of the mountain...

but the summit came

at a terrible cost.

In the spring of 1996, two of

the world's greatest climbers...

Scott Fischer and Rob Hall...

led this expedition

to the top of the world.

both men had summited Everest before...

but this time they went as competitors,

leading nonprofessional climbers...

who paid as much as $65,000 each

to be guided to the top.

There was a businesswoman from Japan,

Yasuko Namba.

A mailman from Seattle,

Doug Hansen.

Two ski instructors from Aspen...

Tim Madsen and Charlotte Fox.

A dentist from Colorado,

Dale Kruse.

A wealthy New York socialite,

Sandy Hill Pittman.

And a pathologist from Texas,

Beck Weathers.

A sudden storm rolled up

from the bottom of Mount Everest.

By the time it reached the top...

five climbers,

who I'd come to call friends...

were dead.

Scott Fischer and Rob Hall

went as business rivals...

each trying to get as many of

their clients to the top as possible...

and win the lion's share

of the lucrative Everest market.

I went as a journalist...

to write about the wisdom of guiding

rich novices up Everest...

once the province

of elite climbers.

Only later would I discover that I

went for the same reason as the others.

to stand on

the highest point on Earth.

Everest arouses

a powerful desire.

To those who don't feel it,

it cannot be explained.

I told myself I was here

to write a magazine article...

but already Everest

was exerting its pull on me...

already the fever was building.

I'm Rob Hall.

I want to make sure

you know who your guides are.

- This is Andy Harris.

- Hi.

- Mike Groom.

- Hi there.

Hey, Mike.

And our lead climbing Sherpa,

Ang Dorje.

I'd like to begin by introducing...

my fellow guides.

To my right, Neal Beidleman.

Hi, everybody.

If you need anything at all...

please feel free to ask him.

And him is the one and only

Anatoli Boukreev.

And my lead climbing Sherpa, Lopsang.


Tomorrow, we begin a ten-day hike

into Base Camp Everest.

Now, base camp is 17,600 feet.

Then Camp One, 19,500 feet.

Already there's a third less oxygen

than at sea level.

So we'll lay in again

and let our bodies adjust.

Then we go up to...

Camp Two.

Camp Two is 21,600 feet.

This is when you have to start worrying

about cerebral and pulmonary edema.

Your brain can swell up...

like an overinflated balloon and your

lungs can fll up with so much liquid...

you literally drown.

Camp Three at 24,000 feet.

Now,your body is inhaling

four times faster than normal...

and still not getting

enough oxygen.

Your digestive tract

will want to quit...

leaving your body so hungry

for nutrients...

it will literally start

to eat itself.

And then, it's Camp Four.

Welcome to the Death Zone...

where bad things can happen

very, very quickly.

You're going to feel sluggish,

careless, cold.

You'll only spend a few hours

at Camp Four.

From this point onwards, nobody on

this team travels without oxygen.

- Is that clear?

- No arguments.

The push for the summit

starts at night.

We go up to the South Col...

the Balcony,

the south summit...

the Hillary Step, the only point

of technical climbing on the ascent...

and then...

the top of the world.

Now, the most important rule:

If you are not on the summit

by 2:
00 P.M., you turn around.

I have seen too many climbers

get killed...

after reaching the top

too late in the day.

They run out of gas and get nailed

by the conditions on the descent.

So this rule is hard and fast.

No matter where you are at 2:00 P.M.,

you turn around.

Unless you're 100 feet from the summit.

Then you can run up, tag it.

You know the answer

to that one, Dougie.

Even if you're 50 feet from the summit,

you go down.

You know that.

Jon Krakauer, right?

What was that all about?

I was in Rob's group last year. Turned

me around 300 feet from the summit.

You'll make it this year.

Have to.

That's something, isn't it?

Come on.

Bit of a letdown, isn't it?

Over 200 climbers

got permits this season.

There's only two weeks

when we can climb her.

We all have to go up

at the same time.

I was thrilled to finally be

at the foot of the great mountain.

But my excitement blinded me

to obvious signs...

signs that would have warned me...

of the tragedy to come.

There were teams from

many different nations on Everest...

some less experienced than others.

The Taiwanese, for example.

I'll help.

It's upside down.

See? This.

Upside down.

This one too. See?

Man, you don't belong

on this mountain.

Because there's so many people

on the mountain this year...

most of whom are incompetent...

Scott and I have decided to coordinate

our efforts for this climb.

In terms of safety,

it's the wisest course of action.

Lopsang, you and Ang Dorje

will head up the Sherpas.

And we are gonna aim

for a May 10 bid for the summit.

Let me emphasize this, though.

One in four climbers

who make the top...

get killed on the descent.

That's because they've used up

all their energy on the way down...

and they make mistakes.

At the risk of sounding unpopular,

I'll say it again.

My team have a turnaround time.

I don't care where you are

on the mountain, at 2:00 P.M...

you absolutely must turn around.

Even if you're 100 feet

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Robert J. Avrech

Robert J. Avrech is an American screenwriter whose works include the 1984 film Body Double (with Brian De Palma) and A Stranger Among Us (1992). He won an Emmy Award for his screenplay The Devil's Arithmetic, based on the young adult novel by Jane Yolen.He is also the author of the children's novel The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden, and the memoir How I Married Karen, and publishes personal and political writings on his blog, Seraphic Press. From 2009 through mid-2012, he was a writer for Breitbart News. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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