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Commentary; David Breashears commentary; Mt. Everest  

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Commentary; David Breashears commentary; Mt. Everest  

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Commentary; David Breashears commentary; Mt. Everest  

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crow/raven sp. -- Corvus sp. 57:20 - 58:40 Play 57:20 - More
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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
15 Apr 2001

    Geography
  • Nepal
    Locality
  • Tengboche
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 27.83528   86.76389
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Dual-Channel Mono; Stereo

David Breashears on Everest
Log - DAT 4-B
Logged by Alex Chadwick.
David comments to Carolyn and ed. Notes are in bold.
(DAT is labeled 4-B, but David refers to it simply as number 4.)

This is Tape Number 4, continuing on from Tengboche monastery, I think we need a link hills to the monastery, and that's what I'm going to try.

- 3 attempts at a track, use #2

00100 - The memorials face to the northeast and from their position you can see the summit of Mt. Everest 10 miles away. Much closer and dominating the view up the valley is Ama Dablam, and close by and nestled in the trees is Tengboche monastery.
00118.

0205 - Sometimes you can hear the monks play in ceremonies they perform. 0212

retake all 00230

David direction at 0300 - asks to run track, then bring up music, then go to other earlier stuff on earlier dats to be in monastery, then leave monastery, head back up the trail.

David comments on butter urn, thinks it may be necessary to make clear the odd sound of it.

0430 - been on the trail about 4 or 5 hours, just left tree line at about 14,000 feet, and sitting behind a big boulder, looking for a little shelter from the wind. It's a really gusty day today, I feel like I need to sit down and rest for a while because last night was a really tough night. back at Tengboche. It was around midnight and I was awakened by screams and shouts. A woman was screaming, 'bring oxygen, bring oxygen.' And there was such terror in her voice I was completely unnerved and disoriented. The room was absolutely black. I couldn't find my flashlight, and for a moment I was transported back to Everest in May of 1996. [POSSIBLE USER TO START PIECE] 0535. (ed. note - tone of this is forthright narration, diary-like. Not intimate, soul baring, just simple, unforced and unselfconscious trail notes - the kind of tone I'd like to hit. Very good transit stuff.)

(Very quiet - no sense of ambi around him)

Retake at 0545 out at 0646 - #2 is better,

Then continue story.. .(this feels cleansing and eerie and important - but maybe because I know the story)

0659 - May 10th of 1996, and the first desperate, pleading radio calls from Rob Hall. He was stranded above the Hillary Step at 28,700 feet. His client, Doug Hansen had collapsed. A storm was raging around him and he was calling to his guides to bring more oxygen. 0722

0754 - his guides were already in a fight to save their own lives in that same storm and would be of little use to Rob that night. I finally realized that the voice I was hearing - the voice of the woman - was coming from an adjoining room in the lodge in which I was staying. Her companion - a 55-year old woman - was suffering the first of five epileptic seizures she would suffer that night. I went in the room to see what I could do. And at first I was violently ordered out of the room by the woman's husband who was terrified watching his wife endure these epileptic fits, and I was a stranger to him. Soon he realized I was there to help, and accepted me, sitting there with his wife through the rest of the night. So not much sleep. At seven in the morning, a helicopter came to take this woman back to Katmandu. 0930

0930 and so on the trail today I was thinking about Rob, as I often do. I was thinking about that terrible, awful night he endured, May 10th, and the violence of the elements around him, and the relentless pounding of the wind, the chaotic nature of that evening as he struggled to save Doug Hansen's life, and then his own. He must have felt that all the winds of Everest had directed their fury at his stance. And there was no place to hide that night from that maelstrom. 1020

1022 - Doug Hansen had reached the summit of Everest quite late - around 4:00 pm. Rob was waiting for him. And shortly after leaving the summit - about 300 feet from the summit, just above the Hillary Step, he had collapsed. He was out of oxygen, and he was out of energy. I guess he'd forgotten that when you're climbing Mt. Everest. The finish line isn't at the top; it's at the bottom. And you have to save some precious energy for getting back down. 11:10

1120 - shortly after Doug collapsed, they were engulfed by storm, howling winds, difficult to communicate.. . .1150

1155 - I wouldn't have wanted to have been in Rob's shoes. He was faced with a terrible dilemma: should he stay with Doug, even though I'm sure at a certain point in time he knew there was no hope for Doug; or should he leave Doug behind and save his own life? In the end, Rob did the right thing, probably the only thing he could have done, and he stayed with Doug through that night. We'll never know what happened. In the morning, Doug was gone; Andy Harris, Rob's fellow guide, was gone, and Rob was alone, the sole survivor of that terrible night on the south summit at 28,000 feet. 1252

1258 - I have no doubt that Rob could have saved his own life that night. He was an immensely experienced Himalayan climber; he was a talented and competent guide. But I just don't think he could bring himself to do it. At his urging, and under his leadership, Doug had been allowed to climb too late in the day. And Rob's final responsibility on that mountain was to look after Doug. And I know - know in my heart that there was a time, for a moment, when Rob knew Doug was finished, that he would never get him down that mountain. But Doug was probably still conscious, and able to talk to Rob, maybe even pleading to be not left behind. And that would have been impossible for Rob to do, to leave Doug behind while there was still one breath of life in him. And therein lies one of the sources of the conflicting feelings that one left Everest with in 1996: is Rob a great hero for sticking with Doug to the end, or was he an irresponsible leader who never should have allowed his client to climb so high so late. For me, Rob will always be a little bit of both. 1512

1520 - I think Rob was operating always with the best intentions. He knew the mountain well. I'm sure he was confident he could get Doug up and down that mountain. But you don't climb a mountain on Everest on your terms. You climb it on its terms. And just when you think you have everything figured out, and you let your guard down just a bit, Everest can turn into a very unforgiving and dangerous place in a matter of minutes. I guess it's just that potential for danger.. .just a very deadly place.. .that we find so compelling about the mountain. Maybe the closer we get to death up there, the firmer grasp we have on life. 1634

1640 - The lasting impression I have of Rob Hall on Mt. Everest is of a courageous man, a brave man, desperately fighting in the night for the life of his client. 1700

1718 - I think Rob was involved in climbing on Everest for all the very best reasons. He thought it was a wonderful experience; he thought his clients came away with tremendous rewards and with a tremendous experience. And he really wanted Doug
Hansen to get to the top of that mountain, and as a guide he understood his responsibilities. And maybe sometimes he let his kinder side get the better of him. His real, his only true responsibility was to the safety of his clients. He didn't owe the summit of Everest to anybody. And in the end he paid a terrible price, but he fulfilled his, responsibilities as a guide to the end. 1824

(ed. Note - as David goes along here, his story telling is becoming more intimate, warmer.)

1829 - I can't imagine the sheer violence on that ridge as Rob struggled to bring Rob down. Just the incessant roar, and you can't communicate, and you can't face the wind (as above, but this is better), you freeze, it's a difficult traverse, 8,000 feet on one side, 9,000 on the other. I see Rob exhorting Doug to keep moving, and inching along in the darkness, in the wind, and the howling gale, and the terrible fury of all those elements. Foot by foot, maybe inch by inch, refusing to give up, refusing to abandon Doug, until Doug either died of exhaustion, or simply fell away into the dark abyss below. 2008

2010 I admire Rob for the courage he showed that night, and on a humbler level I'm thankful I never had to make the decision he did. 2035

same again. .and again. .and again.

2205 - Rob's death, and the death of others that year, reminded me of something someone once said: Everest is mighty and we are small, and that it's also a very big place, and potentially a very dangerous place, and an utterly unpredictable place. We never climb the mountain on our terms; we only climb it on its terms. 2239

Same again better earlier, but the nd better on 2nd. Out at 2357 then retake the end again.

02420 -DAVID ON CROSSING A STREAM ON A VERY HIGH WOODEN SUSPENSION BRIDGE. CAROLYN LISTEN.

ADJUST LEVEL, TRY AGAIN.

OUT TO 2550, THEN AGAIN. But much of this sounds like white noise howl.

2640 - David is retaking an earlier piece on a walking through the village of Parachay... turning into a nice day. Hoping to see an old friend in a lodge.. .(sounds good to me on this take, he's a little winded from walking, good sense of movement and place, describes place of village.) Met friend in '83.. ...(trekkers coming by, stop, then again).

2830 - describes highest lodge at 17,000 feet.. .sounds great. Out at 3000. Try a shorter retake.. .nice history and personal stuff, but not shorter. Out at 3300 Then another retake. 3430

3439 - Apr. 30 note to Carolyn ... heading back down, want to do catch up pieces.
Trying to stay in chron. order. Can't decide if this piece is in the moment, essay, reflective, or all three, and I don't have the experience or artistry to make all the important links.

3543 - It's a beautiful day in the Khumbu, one of the best days on the trail so far. The peaks are out everywhere, covered in fresh snow. And it's quiet on the trail, haven't seen trekkers, a couple of yaks, carrying loads up to the lodge. 3615(as he says this, bells emerge from in back as he passes yaks.. .beautifully timed, try to use.)

361 5 - These are the kinds of days I remember.. .just mountain after mountain (names them & hts.), and up that way others.. .all giant big peaks by any standard, but in Himalayas, these are just medium size peaks. Not big here until over 25-26,000 feet. 3730

3740 -just over here as view of Everest. Wind. Create famous plume.. .jet winds trail for miles, really tell you 3830 (trek pause) 3850 if study you can get an idea from pennant of weather up there. And none of the other high peaks have it. And they are big. But none is quite tall enough to hit jet stream, and that's one of the things that makes Everest Everest. Unlike all the others, only Everest has the height that thrusts into the jet stream.(many retakes to get this) 4047. and retake. 4100 (says he'll try to retake) .

4130 - ambi roll outside.. ..open spacious, low level but there when you boost it.... very good. To 4230, david says trying to get birds.

4300 - I'm in the forest below Tengboche, on my way to Debochay, which has a small, well-preserved nunnery. Again

4358 - this is my favorite place on way to E. rhododendrons, green moss in the breeze, special part of trail, glimpse high peaks through the trees 4430 (this is retake of before, and this is better) 4500 retake again (wlpause and retakes, not as good) 4620, gets better, talking about the summit he sees ten-thousand feet above. Singular place, like to walk through it by myself. Animals and birds like it here¿ retakes through 4736 and on see a 'lah' , sherpa name for musk deer. (retake and better) small, interesting creatures, males have fangs. 4840, like it here, free of predators. Almost hunted to extinction in 60's and 70's' poachers after musk gland. But thrive now. 4920.

4940 - extinction retake.

5000 - Right up to 70's' khumbu was quite wild. Wolves and snow leopards. But they eradicated the wolves for livestock, yesterday I talked with someone who lost a yak, certain it was leopard. So I think up high there may still be leopards in the area. Nice thought anyway 5104.

5105 - I'm going to keep moving up the trail, see if I can't find a 'lah', a musk deer.
There's no poaching midday, and they'll be resting or sleeping out of sight. 5128

5138 - FIRST TECH GLITCH - BEEN RUNNING ON AUTO LEVEL FOR AWHILE.

5225 - (nice start, whispery) Okay, I see a musk deer. It's on a hill, it's a bout 80' away. Camouflaged perfectly, blends with the shadows, all the gray and brown shadows.. .it sees me.. .it's looking this way now. Very shy creatures, but not too threatened by people on this trail. It's eating again, I have to move a little bit now... lost track of it for as second. There is it is again. I'm sure most trekkers on the trail don't realize there's a wonderful animal. Can't see it on the trail. Probably more comfortable with people moving on the trail than someone like myself stopped here. That's nice. 5406.

5430 - Sometimes the trail is a little muddy in here. It snowed last night, so it's definitely muddy today. 5440 - again, and better.

5512 - ambi roll, muddy steps, very wet sounding., then to drier ground.. . .wet, squishy. again.. . .and through 5612.

5640 - hiking breathing, with birds . . .(trekker stop)

5700 again, and good.... and thanks to crow and raven.

5750 great raven... and more... good roll, one bird close, another distant, variety of calls... excellent* * *

Switching to stereo mic.

5900 - good open, better, still many calls, mic. Handle... walking roll with stereo mic.

5930 - starts good, then wind, calls off.

END DAT.

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