Last night, PBS aired Storm Over Everest which is a documentary put together by renowned climber/filmmaker Dave Breashears. Dave interviewed several survivors of the 1996 Everest tragedy (Guy Cotter, Lene Gammelgaard, Lou Kasischke, Sandy Hill, Michael Groom, Beck Weathers, Neil Beidleman). Ever since I read the book Into Thin Air I have been passionately obsessed with reading every book written about Everest ~ especially the stories of what happened that fateful night on the mountain where several climbers perished.
I admire and respect Breashears ~ he's a well seasoned climber and an excellent story teller. My heart has ached a long time for the stigma that has been placed on the climbers that were on the South side of Mount Everest in May of 1996. Assumptions were made ~ people were judged ~ based on a few accounts of what people thought happened on the mountain. Dave brings a fuller story to the surface ~ sheds light in some dark places. I was especially moved when the story gave the account of how Anatoli Boukreev went back by himself and rescued several people off the mountain.
As I watched the program I felt like I was sitting in my living room listening to stories being told with all of the familiar climbers. You see, after reading so many stories about these peoples lives, I feel in some way that they are kindred souls. They all possess within themselves a ferocious will to live ~ a love of life that kept them alive on Everest when they could have gone to sleep and died out there. If you click on this link http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/everest/ you can watch the full 2-hour show on line.
Somehow, in hearing first hand accounts ~ hearing their voices ~ seeing the emotions on their faces ~ I feel a sense of relief. Through people sharing their life stories it gives new meaning to what it means to be alive after being stranded in the 'death zone'.