Beck Weathers

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Seaborn Beck Weathers (born December 1946) is an American pathologist from Texas. He is best known for his role in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster that has been the subject of many books and films, most notably Into Thin Air and Everest.[1]

Everest[edit]

During the 1996 climb to the summit of Mount Everest, Weathers was left for dead, exposed to the elements on the South Col, where he suffered severe hypothermia and frostbite. He recovered enough to walk alone and unassisted to nearby Camp IV. If he had failed to find it he might have plummeted to his death.[2] He was found by Anatoli Boukreev who was trying another solo attempt to rescue Scott Fischer, after leaving Campo IV "in a short time I came up on this man, who was carrying his hands without gloves up front of his body like a surrendering soldier". [3] Pete Athans took care of Weathers and placed him inside a tent. Boukreev; after returning from finding Fischer's body, found Weathers "unattended by any of his teammates, writhing in pain". [4]

Weathers was later helped to walk on frozen feet to a lower camp, where he was a subject of one of the highest altitude medical evacuations ever performed by helicopter.[5] Following his helicopter evacuation from the Western Cwm, he had his right arm amputated halfway between the elbow and wrist. All four fingers and the thumb on his left hand were removed, as well as parts of both feet. His nose was amputated and reconstructed with tissue from his ear and forehead.[6]

Weathers has said that his trouble on the mountain began when he was blinded by the effects of high altitude and overexposure to ultraviolet radiation on his eyes that had been altered by radial keratotomy surgery,[7] the effects of altitude upon which had not been well described at the time. After he admitted his disability to his paid guide, Rob Hall, Weathers waited for Hall to guide him back down the mountain, instead of descending with other guides or clients.[2] Hall was delayed with a client further up the mountain before he could return to Weathers' position. This delay caused Weathers to become stranded in a late afternoon blizzard, which ended in tragedy for some and hardship for the entire party. Hall, unable to descend from the higher elevations, was reported dead the following day.

Weathers spent the night in an open bivouac in a blizzard with his face and hands exposed. His fellow climbers said that his frozen hand and nose looked and felt as if they were made of porcelain, and they did not expect him to survive. With that assumption, they only tried to make him comfortable until he died, but he survived another freezing night alone in a tent unable to drink, eat, or keep himself covered with the sleeping bags he was provided with. His cries for help could not be heard above the blizzard, and his companions were surprised to find him alive and coherent the following day.

Current life[edit]

Weathers authored a book about his experience, Left For Dead, which was first published in 2000. He continues to practice medicine and deliver motivational speeches. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Geographic - profile of Weathers and other survivors, with audio interviews
  2. ^ a b Beck Weathers
  3. ^ "The Climb", page 203
  4. ^ "the Climb" page 205
  5. ^ Helicopter on Everest makes history
  6. ^ Into Thin Air, pg. 352.
  7. ^ "Left for Dead" review

External links[edit]