Mount Everest : Into the Death Zone – the fifth estate

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Mount Everest : Into the Death Zone – the fifth estate

-CA >> Announcer: ON THIS EDITION OF THE FIFTH ESTATE. AN EXTRAORDINARY FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT FROM MOUNT EVEREST. >> I’M DOING THIS THING BECAUSE I WANTED TO SEND PEOPLE A MESSAGE THAT FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS. YOU HAVE ONE LIFE. LIVE YOUR LIFE. >> Announcer: IT BEGAN WITH A BIG IDEA. >> AND SHE SAYS, I’M CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST, AND I SAYS, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? >> Announcer: BUT AGAINST ALL ODDS, THAT DREAM WAS ABOUT TO COME TRUE.

>> AND THERE WAS JUST THIS COUPLE METRES OF THE TOP OF THE WORLD THAT, IF YOU’VE BEEN THERE, YOU HAVE REALLY ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING. >> Bob: THEN… IT ALL CHANGED. >> IT TOOK ABOUT AN HOUR FOR US TO CROSS THE FIRST BODY. >> Bob: THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT SHE WAS ALMOST OUT OF OXYGEN. DID THEY MENTION THAT TO YOU? >> DID THEY TELL YOU THAT? >> NO, NO, NO, JUST, WE ARE ON THE WAY BACK. >> I SAID TO MYSELF, THIS ISN’T GOOD. LIKE, WHY ARE PEOPLE UP THERE THAT LONG? >> Announcer: AHEAD ON “THE FIFTH ESTATE, “INTO THE DEATH ZONE.” THE DARK SIDE OF MOUNT EVEREST.” >> EVERY YEAR THERE WILL BE A SLOW BLOODLETTING OF PEOPLE WHO PROBABLY SHOULDN’T BE THERE, GO ANYWAY, WHO DON’T LISTEN TO REASON AND WHO END UP WALKING UNTIL THEY DIE.

♪ ♪ >> HELLO, I’M BOB MCKEOWN. WELCOME TO THE “FIFTH ESTATE”. EVERY YEAR, THEY COME HERE TO THE HILL COUNTRY OF NEPAL, CLIMBERS DRAWN BY THE LURE OF THE HIMALAYAS AND BY ONE MOUNTAIN IN PARTICULAR: EVEREST, TALLEST IN THE WORLD. THE HIGHEST POINT ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. EVEN SIX DECADES AFTER IT WAS FIRST CLIMBED BY SIR EDMUND HILLARY AND TENZING NORGAY, TO REACH THE SUMMIT OF EVEREST IS STILL AN ASTONISHINGLY DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS PURSUIT. ON THIS EDITION OF “THE FIFTH ESTATE”, THE STORY OF ONE CANADIAN WOMAN DRIVEN BY HER DREAM TO STAND AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO THE SUN. IT’S A STORY OF LIFE AND DEATH, OF THE STRENGTH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT AND OF TWO OF THE WORST DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST LEGENDARY AND NOTORIOUS MOUNTAIN. ♪ ♪ >> THE REALITY OF MOUNT EVEREST IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPREHEND. AS HIGH AS THE FLIGHT PATH OF AN INTERCONTINENTAL JET, FRIGID AS THE ARCTIC, WITH BARELY ENOUGH OXYGEN TO SUSTAIN LIFE, SO LETHAL THAT HUNDREDS HAVE DIED TRYING TO REACH THE TOP OR TRYING TO GET BACK DOWN AGAIN. BUT DESPITE IT ALL, THERE’S THE FATAL ATTRACTION.

>> I REMEMBER THE VIEW. THAT WAS JUST THE SUNLIGHT ABOVE, LIKE, 50 FEET. I CAN — IT WAS, LIKE, BREATHTAKING, THE VIEW. >> Reporter: SHRIYA SHAH FIRST LAID EYES ON MOUNT EVEREST WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD IN NEPAL. >> AND I WAS THINKING, ONE DAY I WILL DO THAT. >> Reporter: DECADES LATER, LIVING IN TORONTO, SHE ANNOUNCED THAT, AT 33, SHE WAS GOING TO REKINDLE THAT DREAM. >>> AND SHE SAYS, I’M CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST, AND I SAYS, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? AND SHE SAYS, NO. SHE SAYS, I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO IT. >> Reporter: NOVACK SAYS SHRIYA WAS AN IRRESISTIBLE FORCE OF NATURE HERSELF. >> ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT SHRIYA IS THAT SHE BELIEVED IN HERSELF. SHE WAS A VERY CONFIDENT WOMAN.

AND THAT CONFIDENCE WAS THE ONE THAT DROVE HER. SHE WAS A VERY DRIVEN PERSON. >> Reporter: BORN VIRTUALLY IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT EVEREST, SHRIYA EVENTUALLY TRAVELLED THE WORLD, WORKING FOR CRUISE LINES, WHICH IS HOW SHE MET A CANADIAN NAMED BRUCE KLORFINE, WHO WAS THE SHIP’S PIANIST. HE FOUND HER IRRESISTIBLE, TOO. >> SHE HAD A SWEET LOOK TO HER. THAT’S WHAT I CAN TELL YOU, AND HER WHOLE DEMEANOR WAS LIKE THAT. WHEN I STARTED TO TALK TO HER AND GOT UP ENOUGH GUTS TO APPROACH HER, I THOUGHT THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY SHE CARRIED HERSELF. IT WAS… VERY NICE. >> Reporter: THEY FELL IN LOVE AND MARRIED, RETURNING TO CANADA TO SETTLE DOWN. IN TORONTO, SHRIYA STARTED A BUSINESS, IMPORTING INDIAN FOODS AND SPICES. SHE TRIED POLITICS, REPRESENTING A FRINGE PARTY IN THE LAST FEDERAL ELECTION, WINNING JUST A FEW HUNDRED VOTES. BRUCE KLORFINE SAYS, WHATEVER HIS WIFE DID, IT WAS WITH PASSION. >> IF SHE WANTED SOMETHING, SHE, THERE WAS NOTHING YOU COULD SAY TO STOP HER. >> THANK YOU! >> Reporter: BUT HE WAS AS SHOCKED AS ANYONE WHEN SHE REVEALED SHE WANTED TO CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST.

>> SHE JUST SAID, I’M GOING TO THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST. UM… >> AND THIS CAME OUT OF THE BLUE TO YOU? >> TOTALLY OUT OF THE BLUE, ABOUT FROM THE TIME SHE TOLD YOU ABOUT HER PLAN, THERE WAS NOTHING THAT I COULD DO TO TALK HER OUT OF IT, AND, BELIEVE ME, I TRIED. >> Reporter: VIRGINIA NOVACK HAD NO LUCK REASONING WITH HER PAL EITHER.

>> AND IN HER WAY — AND SHE ALWAYS DOES THAT — SHE WAS, LIKE, OH, JUST LIKE A MOTHER HEN. I’M OKAY. DON’T WORRY. I’LL BE FINE. SHE SAYS, AND THEN, WHEN WE COME BACK, WE’LL HAVE A DRINK. OKAY. THAT WAS IT. >> Reporter: WITH LESS THAN A YEAR UNTIL HER PLANNED CLIMB IN MAY 2012, THERE WAS NO TIME TO LOSE. TO PREPARE, SHRIYA TOOK HIKES — NOT ALPINE, EXACTLY — IN RURAL ONTARIO. SHE TRAINED AT A ROCK CLIMBING GYM. SHE LUGGED A WEIGHTED PACK UP HE STAIRS OF HER 40-STOREY TORONTO HIGHRISE. BUT WITHOUT MOUNTAINEERING EQUIPMENT OF HER OWN, FOR PUBLICITY SHOTS TO RAISE AWARENESS AND MONEY FOR HER EXPEDITION, SHRIYA RENTED GEAR. THEN PHOTO-SHOPPED HERSELF IN FRONT OF A PICTURE OF MOUNT EVEREST. >> IF SUCCESSFUL, SHE WILL BE THE FIRST SOUTH ASIAN WOMAN FROM CANADA TO REACH THE TOP.

>> Reporter: HER EFFORTS SOON ATTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF THE LOCAL MEDIA. >> TO GET THERE, JUST TO RAISE THE CANADA FLAG… THAT’S ALL I CAN SEE MYSELF DOING. >> Reporter: BUT TO RAISE HER FLAG ON EVEREST, SHRIYA KNEW SHE WOULD NEED HELP. THE QUESTION WAS HOW MUCH? >> YOU HAVE TO FIND SOME GOOD GUIDES. THE TRAVEL AGENCY WHO CAN — WHO KNOWS ALREADY, WHO HAS KNOWLEDGE. SHERPA WHO’S GOING TO BE CLIMBING YOU, SHOWING YOU THE WAY. >> Reporter: IN NEPAL, MOUNT EVEREST IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST TOURIST ATTRACTION, A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE COUNTRY’S GDP. EXPEDITIONS TO EVEREST COST TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, AND COMPETITION BETWEEN GUIDES AND OUTFITTERS IS FIERCE. GRAYSON SCHAFFER IS A WRITER AND EDITOR FOR “OUTSIDE” MAGAZINE. >> IT’S JUST BUYER BEWARE. IT’S — YOU KNOW, EVEREST IS DANGEROUS. YOU’VE GOT TO BASICALLY TAKE — IF YOU’RE GOING TO TRY TO CLIMB EVEREST, YOU’RE TAKING YOUR LIFE INTO YOUR HANDS, SO YOU’D BETTER DO YOUR RESEARCH ON WHO YOU’RE GOING TO PAY TO TAKE YOU UP THE MOUNTAIN.

>> Reporter: SHE FOUND A COMPANY THROUGH FAMILY – UTMOST ADVENTURE TREKKING, THIS COMPANY IS CALLED. THE COMPANY MANAGER GOT THE eMAIL FROM CANADA. >> DID SHE SAY AN EXPEDITION TO MOUNT EVEREST? >> YEAH, MOUNT EVEREST. I WANT TO DO THIS. >> LAST NIGHT, WE ARRIVE HERE ABOUT, LIKE, IN THE EVENING, AND WE SLEPT ALL NIGHT. NOW, IT’S 7:00. UM… LOCAL TIME, AND WE’RE READY TO LEAVE. >> Reporter: AND ONCE SHE REACHED NEPAL, TREKKING TO GET ACCLIMATED TO THE ALTITUDE, THE COMPANY DIDN’T SEEM TO THINK SHRIYA’S INEXPERIENCE WAS AN ISSUE. >> HAD SHE EVER CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN BEFORE? >> NO. >> HAD SHE EVER BEEN ON AN ICE LADDER, EITHER HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL? >> NO, NEVER. SHE DIDN’T HAVE NO EXPERIENCE. >> SO HOW ON EARTH COULD YOU EXPECT THAT SHE COULD MAKE IT UP TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN? >> EVERY TIME SHE SAY, I CAN DO IT. I CAN DO IT.

I CAN DO IT. >> Reporter: THEY TOLD SHRIYA AS LONG AS SHE WAS DETERMINED ENOUGH, THEY’D TEACH HER WHAT SHE NEEDED TO KNOW. ARMED WITH THAT ADVICE, SHE WOULD SET OFF FOR MOUNT EVEREST. AND SHE WOULD KEEP A VIDEO DIARY OF HER FATEFUL JOURNEY, AS YOU’LL SEE AFTER THE BREAK. >> WE’RE READY TO WALK NOW FOR PROBABLY 8 HOURS. WE’LL BE A THE SECOND SPOT AND RESTING FOR ONE DAY THERE. SO, THERE YOU GO. >> Reporter: BY THE END OF MARCH 2012, SHRIYA SHAH WAS IN KATHMANDU, CAPITAL OF NEPAL, HER BIRTHPLACE AND HER HOME UNTIL HER TEENS.

>> SHE WAS BORN HERE. >> SO YOU GREW UP TOGETHER FOR A WHILE? >> YEAH. >> FOR HOW LONG? >> ABOUT — SHE WAS — ABOUT 13 YEARS WE WERE TOGETHER. >> Bob: SHWETA IS SHRIYA’S COUSIN. SHE SAYS THE FAMILY COULDN’T BELIEVE THE ONE THEY TEASED FOR BEING LAZY TRULY INTENDED TO CLIMB THE WORLD’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN. >> SHE DIDN’T LOVE WALKING, YOU KNOW. WHEN SHE CAME FROM OUT OF HOURS, SHE SAY, PLEASE CALL TAXI, I’M NOT ABLE TO MOVE. I’M NOT ABLE TO WALK. YOU HAVE TO CALL TAXI. I’M NOT WILLING TO WALK. >> Reporter: BUT NOW, SHRIYA HAD HIRED THAT LOCAL COMPANY, UTMOST ADVENTURE TREKKING, TO GUIDE HER TO THE TOP OF MOUNT EVEREST.

BUT WAS THAT CHOICE THE RIGHT ONE? >> WELL, FRANKLY, NOBODY HAD HEARD OF UTMOST ADVENTURES. YOU KNOW, WHEN I TALKED TO THE OWNERS AND THE OUTFITTERS, SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES, NONE OF THEM HAD EVER HEARD OF UTMOST. >> Reporter: GRAYSON SCHAFFER WAS EMBEDDED AT BASE CAMP FOR THE 2012 CLIMBING SEASON. HE LEARNED NOT ONLY HAD SHRIYA NEVER CLIMBED BUT THAT UTMOST WAS A START-UP THAT HADN’T GUIDED ANYONE TO THE EVEREST SUMMIT. >> YOU HAD SHERPAS WHO PROBABLY WEREN’T ACTUALLY QUALIFIED AS GUIDES WHO WERE GUIDING A CLIMBER WHO HAD NEVER CLIMBED BEFORE, AND THOSE TWO THINGS ARE JUST, YOU KNOW — PUTTING THOSE TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE TOGETHER IS JUST A — IT’S A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. >> Reporter: STILL, SHRIYA PAID UTMOST ALMOST $40,000 TO GUIDE HER. ADD TRAVEL, EQUIPMENT AND TIPS FOR THE SHERPAS — THE LEGENDARY HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINEERS WHO WILL HELP GET HER TO THE TOP — AND THE TOTAL COST COULD BE CLOSER TO $80,000. BY EARLY BY APRIL, SHRIYA SHAH WAS ON HER WAY TO MOUNT EVEREST FOR A PLANNED SUMMIT ATTEMPT IN MID-MAY.

>> THE TIME IS… >> Reporter: AND SHE WOULD KEEP THAT VIDEO DIARY ALMOST EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. >> HERE YOU GO. WE’RE READY TO WALK NOW FOR PROBABLY EIGHT HOURS, AND WE’LL BE — WE’LL BE THE SECOND SPOT AND WE’LL BE RESTING FOR ONE DAY THERE. >> Reporter: FROM THE FOOTHILLS OF THE HIMALAYAS HERE OUTSIDE THE NEPALI CAPITAL OF KATHMANDU TO EVEREST BASE CAMP IS ABOUT 200 KILOMETERS. A HELICOPTER CAN GET THERE IN JUST OVER HALF AN HOUR, BUT MOST CLIMBERS DON’T FLY. INSTEAD, THEY TREK FOR UP TO TWO WEEKS, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THEIR BODIES ACCLIMATIZE TO THE LACK OF OXYGEN. BUT THE CLOSER THEY GET TO THE SUMMIT OF EVEREST, THE LESS OXYGEN THERE IS. AT THE VERY TOP, IT’S ABOUT A THIRD OF WHAT WE BREATHE AT SEA LEVEL.

FOR MANY PEOPLE WHO CLIMB THAT MOUNTAIN, IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP THEM ALIVE. IT’S WHY THEY CALL THE UPPER REACHES OF MOUNT EVEREST “THE DEATH ZONE.” AT EVEREST BASE CAMP, WITH THE 2012 CLIMBING SEASON SET TO BEGIN, THERE WAS AN OMINOUS FEELING. WEATHER PATTERNS ESSENTIALLY LIMIT SUMMIT ATTEMPTS ON MOUNT EVEREST TO LATE SPRING. BUT IN 2012, CLIMBING CONDITIONS WERE EVEN MORE DIFFICULT THAN USUAL. WHAT’S MORE, THERE WERE WORRIES ABOUT THE SHEER NUMBER OF CLIMBERS WAITING AT BASE CAMP AND THE INEXPERIENCE OF SOME OF THEM. >> EVEREST IS, YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY A VERY DIFFICULT ENDEAVOR, BUT IT’S NOT A VERY TECHNICAL MOUNTAIN.

IT DOESN’T REQUIRE A LOT OF TECHNICAL CLIMBING SKILL. IF YOU CAN JUST GET YOURSELF FIT ENOUGH TO KEEP PUTTING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER, YOU CAN GET UP THE THING. >> Reporter: MOUNTAINEER AND JOURNALIST MICHAEL KODAS. >> CONSEQUENTLY, LOTS OF PEOPLE WITH VERY LITTLE CLIMBING EXPERIENCE SHOW UP ON THAT MOUNTAIN EVERY YEAR, AND MORE AND MORE OF THEM EVERY YEAR. >> THE LOCAL TIME IS 9:30. WE’RE IN THE BASE CAMP. WE’RE JUST BELOW MOUNT EVEREST, WHERE WE’RE GOING TO BE GOING WITHIN A MONTH. >> Reporter: THIS YEAR, WHEN SHRIYA SHAH ARRIVED AT BASE CAMP, ALTITUDE 5400 METRES OR ALMOST 18,000 FEET, WHATEVER SHE LACKED IN EXPERIENCE, SHE MORE THAN MADE UP IN SWAGGER. >> AS YOU’RE COMING INTO BASE CAMP, THE KITCHEN TENT FOR UTMOST ADVENTURES WAS RIGHT ON THE MAIN TRAIL AND, YOU KNOW, ACROSS IT WAS THIS GIANT SORT OF BILLBOARD OF Ms. SHAH IN HER 8,000 METRE DOWN SUIT, SORT OF SMILING. >> Reporter: SHE HAD BROUGHT 10 WITH HER OF THAT PHOTO-SHOPPED P.R. PICTURE FROM TORONTO, POSING IN HER RENTED YELLOW CLIMBING SUIT. NOW DISPLAYED IN FRONT OF THE REAL MOUNT EVEREST.

>> INITIALLY, I HAD ASSUMED THAT SHE WAS SOME SORT OF PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAINEER AND THAT THIS MUST HAVE BEEN, YOU KNOW, A BIG EXPEDITION THAT HAD A LOT OF FUNDING. >> Bob: THAT MISIMPRESSION WOULDN’T LAST LONG. [Shriya’s pained coughs] IN TRAINING SESSIONS, AS YOU CAN SEE IN THIS TRAINING VIDEO, EVEN GOING DOWNHILL, SHRIYA LAGGED FAR BEHIND. BUT BY ALL ACCOUNTS, SHE WAS A WILLING STUDENT, LIKED BY HER TEAMMATES, AND APPARENTLY NOT AFFECTED BY THE NAUSEA OR HEADACHES CAUSED BY THE ALTITUDE. >> WAS SHE SLOW? >> SHE WAS SLOW, MORE THAN OTHER PEOPLE. OKAY? >> WE’VE BEEN TOLD THAT SHE WAS VERY SLOW.

>> YEAH. YEAH. SHE’S SLOW. THAT’S — EVERYBODY KNOW. THAT’S — EVERYBODY KNOW. SHE SLOW. BUT SHE DIDN’T HAVE A HEADACHE. SHE DIDN’T HAVE NOTHING, YOU KNOW. JUST CONTINUE WALK, YOU KNOW. >> Bob: IN THE BUSINESS OF LEADING EXPEDITIONS ON EVEREST, NO ONE IS BETTER-KNOWN OR MORE-RESPECTED THAN NEW ZEALANDER RUSSELL BRICE. IN ALMOST FOUR DECADES, HE’S GUIDED HUNDREDS TO THE SUMMIT AND EARNED A NICKNAME, “THE BIG BOSS.” HIS COMPANY, HIMALAYAN EXPERIENCE, HAD ABOUT TWO DOZEN CLIENTS FOR EVEREST IN 2012, WHO EACH PAID OVER $50,000. BUT RUSSELL BRICE HAD REASON TO WORRY. >> I THINK THIS YEAR WAS A VERY SPECIAL YEAR, AND IT WAS DANGEROUS. >> Reporter: IN SPRING, UNUSUAL WEATHER CONDITIONS TRIGGERED AVALANCHES AND COLLAPSES OF THE MASSIVE SLABS OF ICE, KNOWN AS “SERAKS,” MAKING THE FEARSOME ICE EVEN MORE DANGEROUS. >> IT’S A REALLY DEEP CREVASSE. >> I SEE IT. >> JUST FOR THE VIEWERS AT HOME… I WANT TO SHOW EVERYBODY HOW DEEP THAT THING IS.

Line:85% >> IT’S PRETTY DEEP. >> IT’S PRETTY DEEP. >> Reporter: IN EARLY MAY, ONE HUGE SERAK DEMOLISHED A HIGH ALTITUDE CAMP JUST BEFORE DOZENS OF RUSSELL BRICE’S CLIMBERS WERE DUE TO ARRIVE AT IT. >> WHEN THE SERAK FALL COLLAPSED AT CAMP 3, UM, AND THERE WAS, WHAT, 18 TENTS CRUSHED. SIX HOURS LATER, THOSE TENTS WOULD HAVE BEEN FULL OF PEOPLE. SO, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN, WHAT? 32 PEOPLE… KILLED. >> Bob: AT BEST, IT MEANT THE 2012 CLIMBING SEASON WAS SHORTENED DRAMATICALLY. WITH MONSOON RAINS DUE BY JUNE, THE WINDOW FOR A SUMMIT ASCENT WOULD NOW BE OPEN FOR NO MORE THAN A COUPLE OF WEEKS AND NO SOONER THAN MID-MAY. THE MISHAPS WERE MAKING CLIMBERS EVEN MORE EDGY. >> THERE WAS AN AVALANCHE THAT KNOCKED OUT OUR ENTIRE CAMP FROM 12 UP THERE, AND SO I JUST WENT UP AND DID A LOAD, TOOK A LOAD OF GEAR.

WE WERE DIGGING SOME STUFF OUT. LIKE, TENTS AND — AND STOVES AND FOOD AND GEAR THAT WE HAD CACHED UP HERE. >> Reporter: SO, ESSENTIALLY, A WHOLE YEAR’S CONTINGENT OF CLIMBERS NOW WAITED AT BASE CAMP. HUNDREDS POISED TO TRY FOR THE TOP AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY. THE QUESTION FOR EVERYONE, WHEN WOULD THAT BE? BUT FOR SHRIYA SHAH, THERE WAS ANOTHER QUESTION. SHOULD SHE EVEN BE ON MOUNT EVEREST IN THE FIRST PLACE? SHE HAD TO BE TAUGHT ALMOST EVERYTHING, FROM PUTTING CRAMPONS ON HER BOOTS. >> JUST SNAP. >> Reporter: TO HOW TO USE THEM TO CROSS THE ICE LADDERS.

>> OKAY. >> LIKE THIS. >> GOT YOU. >> Reporter: BUT AS THE DAY TO SUMMIT APPROACHED, THE SENIOR SHERPA FOR UTMOST ADVENTURES APPARENTLY CHANGED HIS MIND ABOUT GUIDING SHRIYA. SHE PHONED HER COUSIN SHWETA TO SAY HE HAD BLUNTLY WARNED HER NOT TO CLIMB. >> IF YOU WALK ON THIS WAY, YOU WILL DIE, AND YOU’LL KILL US, TOO. >> HE LITERALLY SAID, IF YOU GO ON… >> YOU WILL ALSO DIE, AND YOU WILL KILL US, TOO. >> Bob: WHEN WE COME BACK, DESPITE THE DOUBTS AND AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHRIYA’S DREAM IS ABOUT TO COME TRUE. >> YOU KNOW, THAT’S AMAZING DETERMINATION FROM, FROM HER. >> Reporter: IT WAS p.m. ON MAY THE 18th, AND SHRIYA SHAH WAS ABOUT TO UNDERTAKE WHAT NO ONE BUT SHE THOUGHT POSSIBLE: TO ATTEMPT TO SUMMIT MOUNT EVEREST.

FROM CAMP 4 AT 8,000 METRES, IT IS JUST HALF A MILE STRAIGHT UP TO THE HIGHEST POINT ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. EVEN FOR THE BEST, THE TRIP TO THE SUMMIT AND BACK CAN BE 10 TO 12 HOURS OF INTENSE CLIMBING, ALL IN THE OXYGEN-STARVED DEATH ZONE. BUT AS INEXPERIENCED AS SHE WAS, WHEN SHRIYA SET OUT FOR THE SUMMIT, SHE WASN’T ACCOMPANIED BY THE TOP GUIDES FROM UTMOST ADVENTURES. INSTEAD, THE OWNER OF THE COMPANY, GHANESH THAKURI, WOULD GO ON AHEAD, AS WOULD THE SENIOR SHERPA WHO TOLD SHRIYA SHE COULD DIE.

THEY BOTH LEFT HER, THEIR MOST VULNERABLE CLIENT, WITH TWO LESS-EXPERIENCED SHERPAS. EVEN WITH SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN, THE CLIMB WOULD BE PONDEROUSLY DIFFICULT AND SLOW. ADVENTURE JOURNALIST GRAYSON SCHAFFER. >> THEY WILL BE TAKING ONE OR TWO STEPS, STOPPING, TAKING A FEW BREATHS AND THEN CONTINUING, YOU KNOW, TAKING ANOTHER STEP. SO, IF YOU CAN IMAGINE, YOU KNOW, WALKING TEN FEET IN, YOU KNOW, TWO OR THREE MINUTES IT’S — IT’S SO SLOW. >> Reporter: AND SHRIYA WAS AMONG THE SLOWEST. ON MAY 18th, 2012, THAT WAS SAYING SOMETHING. THIS PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN BY A GERMAN CLIMBER WOULD COME TO SYMBOLIZE THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF A NATURAL WONDER, THE THRONG WAITING TO SUMMIT, AS IF LINED UP AS AN AMUSEMENT PARK. >> I’M LOOKING AT THAT PICTURE AND GOING, HAS EVERYONE LOST THEIR HEAD? IS THERE NO ONE THERE THAT IS ACTUALLY THINKING WHATSOEVER THAT, HEY, WE NEED SOME DISTANCE BETWEEN PEOPLE? >> Reporter: VETERAN GUIDE RUSSELL BRICE SAYS, INCREDIBLY, THOSE HUNDREDS OF CLIMBERS DEPENDED ON ONE ROPE LINE, WHICH COULD BREAK AT ANY MOMENT, HURLING THEM DOWN THE SHEER ICE FACE.

ONE ROCK FALL OR COLLAPSING SERAK COULD KILL DOZENS, AND THE INEVITABLE DELAYS WOULD BE LETHAL, TOO. >> WHEN YOU HAVE THAT DETERMINATION OF — OF “I HAVE TO GET TO THE SUMMIT, BUT IT’S SO CLOSE, BUT IT’S STILL SO FAR AWAY…” AND SO, YEAH, I CAN SEE THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO START RUNNING OUT OF OXYGEN. >> Reporter: BUT NONE OF RUSSELL BRICE’S CLIENTS WERE IN THAT LINE, BECAUSE TWO WEEKS EARLIER, HE’D TAKEN THE EXTRAORDINARY STEP OF CANCELLING HIS EXPEDITION, TELLING DOZENS OF CLIMBERS WHO’D PAID OVER $50,000 APIECE THE SITUATION WAS SIMPLY TOO DANGEROUS. A CONTROVERSIAL DECISION. WITH NO REFUNDS. >> IT’S HARD TO LAY BLAME ON ANY PARTICULAR ONE THING, BUT THERE’S ALWAYS SMALL CONTRIBUTING THINGS THAT ESCALATE TO THAT SUMMIT DAY. UM… THAT MADE IT SUCH A — A POWERFUL DAY THIS YEAR. >> Bob: ON SUMMIT DAY, THEIR HEADLAMPS EERILY LIT THE TOP OF THE RIDGE AS SHRIYA AND HER SHERPAS CLIMBED ALL NIGHT.

BY ON THE MORNING OF MAY 19th, THEY HAD BEEN ASCENDING FOR 16 HOURS STRAIGHT. SHRIYA FREQUENTLY HAD TO SIT DOWN AND REST. IN MANY PLACES, THE TRAIL TO THE TOP OF MOUNT EVEREST IS WIDE ENOUGH ONLY FOR A SINGLE PERSON. WHETHER IT’S A LADDER OVER A CREVASSE IN THE ICE FALL OR A TOWERING RIDGE WITH SHEER DROPS ON BOTH SIDES, THERE’S OFTEN NO PLACE TO PASS. YOU CAN ONLY GO AS FAST AS THE CLIMBER IN FRONT OF YOU.

AND NOWHERE IS THAT MORE SO THAN AT THE LAST MAJOR OBSTACLE BEFORE THE SUMMIT, KNOWN AS THE HILLARY STEP. A 15-METRE WALL OF ROCK AND ICE WITH A SINGLE ROPE LINE FOR THOSE GOING UP AND DOWN. ON MAY 19th, THE WAIT IN EACH DIRECTION WAS TWO HOURS LONG. IT WAS THERE THAT SOMETHING HAPPENED WHICH MAY WELL HAVE BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT OF SHRIYA SHAH’S LIFE. REMEMBER, THE UTMOST OWNER HAD DECIDED TO GO ON AHEAD IN HIS OWN QUEST FOR THE SUMMIT. HE’S HERE ON THE RIGHT, PASSING A SEEMINGLY EXHAUSTED SHRIYA.

BUT, LATER, RETURNING FROM THE TOP, HE AGAIN CAME FACE-TO-FACE WITH SHRIYA, NOW ALMOST OUT OF OXYGEN. >> SHE TOLD ME SHE, SHE HAVE ONLY 20 MINUTE LEFT OXYGEN. >> 20 MINUTE LEFT. >> RIGHT. >> SHE DIDN’T HAVE ANY MORE OXYGEN AFTER THIS. >> Reporter: OWNER GHANESH THAKURI SAYS HE KNEW IT WAS NOW MUCH TOO LATE FOR SHRIYA AND THE SHERPAS TO CONTINUE UP TO THE SUMMIT. >> Reporter: HE SAYS HE TRIED TO CONVINCE HER TO TURN AROUND. >> Reporter: SO, WITH SHRIYA SHAH’S LIFE AT STAKE, THE UTMOST OWNER GAVE HER ONE LAST BOTTLE OF OXYGEN. THEN, HE LEFT HER AGAIN, HEADED DOWN. SHRIYA AND HER TWO SHERPAS KEPT WAITING TO GO UP.

I UNDERSTAND THERE WAS A TRAFFIC JAM, BUT THAT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT, IF SHE GETS TO THE SUMMIT AT 2:30, SHE WILL HAVE BEEN ALREADY CLIMBING FOR 19 HOURS. >> 19 HOURS, YEAH. >> SHE’S ALREADY ALMOST OUT OF OXYGEN, AND SHE’S GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE HER WAY BACK DOWN IN THE DARK. >> YEAH. >> ISN’T THAT THE — YOUR COMPANY’S RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE SHE’S NOT IN THAT POSITION? >> Bob: THE EXPEDITION MANAGER CLAIMS, FROM BASE CAMP, HE TRIED EVERYTHING HE COULD TO GET THE SHERPAS TO TURN SHRIYA AROUND.

>> HOW WOULD YOU LOOK UPON THE LOGISTICS OF THAT ARRANGEMENT? >> IT’S TOTALLY RIDICULOUS. IT’S THE FIRST TIME I’VE HEARD THE TIMES, AND IT’S JUST TOTALLY RIDICULOUS. >> WHY? >> THE OWNER SHOULD HAVE TURNED HER AROUND, AND THE OWNER SHOULD HAVE STAYED THERE AND MADE SURE SHE CAME BACK. >> Reporter: RUSSELL BRICE MAINTAINS THAT SAVING LIVES IS REALLY THE ONLY JOB AN EXPEDITION LEADER HAS. >> I KNOW IT’S HARD. I’VE HAD TO DO IT. IT’S AN INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT SITUATION TO BE IN. >> Reporter: BUT BEFORE LONG, SOMETHING REMARKABLE WOULD HAPPEN ON EVEREST’S SUMMIT. SHE HAD NEVER CLIMBED BEFORE. SHE WAS AMONG THE SLOWEST ON THE MOUNTAIN.

Align:start HER GUIDES REPEATEDLY WARNED HER TO TURN BACK, BUT, AMAZINGLY, JUST BEFORE ON A BRILLIANT AFTERNOON, SHRIYA SHAH REALIZED HER DREAM AND REACHED THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST. 8,848 METRES ABOVE SEA LEVEL. 29,028 FEET. AT THIS MOMENT, NO ONE ON EARTH STOOD CLOSER TO THE SUN. AND WITHIN MINUTES, THE WORD BEGAN TO SPREAD. >> AT 5:30, I WOKE UP, AND SOMETHING TOLD ME TO GO TO THE COMPUTER, AND I WENT TO THE COMPUTER, AND IT STARTED SAYING THAT SHRIYA HAS CLIMBED THE SUMMIT. AND I WAS JUST ELATED. NOW, I CAN’T GO BACK TO SLEEP, SO I’M eMAILING ALL MY FRIENDS AND EVERYBODY THAT KNOWS HER THAT OUR SHRIYA HAS SUCCESSFULLY CLIMBED MOUNT EVEREST, AND I SAYS, NOW THE TREK IS FOR HER TO COME DOWN SAFELY. >> Reporter: FINALLY, SHRIYA’S HUSBAND BRUCE KLORFINE COULD BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF.

>> I WAS EXCITED FOR HER, YOU KNOW. I JUST FELT PROUD. I DIDN’T — I MEAN, FOR ME, THAT OVERSHADOWED THE SENSE OF DANGER THAT I HAD ABOUT THE WHOLE THING OR WHATEVER I WAS WORRIED ABOUT. I THOUGHT, IF SHE COULD ACCOMPLISH THAT, THEN… YOU KNOW, SHE MUST BE ABLE TO GET BACK DOWN AS WELL. >> Reporter: BUT RUSSELL BRICE BELIEVES THAT, EVEN AT THIS TRIUMPHANT MOMENT, SHRIYA WAS ALREADY PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN. >> YOU KNOW, THAT’S AMAZING DETERMINATION FROM, FROM HER. SHE MUST HAVE BEEN COLD. ALTHOUGH THE PHOTO OF HER ON THE SUMMIT, SHE DOESN’T LOOK THAT COLD. BUT SHE MUST HAVE BEEN COLD.

AMAZING DETERMINATION. BUT ABSOLUTELY STUPID. BUT WITHOUT ANY DIRECTION AND ANYONE TO SAY, “COME BACK.” >> Bob: IN THE BLINDING SUN, BUT STILL AT FAR BELOW ZERO, SHE SPENT ALMOST HALF AN HOUR SAVOURING THE MOMENT. THERE SEEMS NO SENSE OF URGENCY HERE, EVEN WITH HER DWINDLING OXYGEN SUPPLY. THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT SHE WAS ALMOST OUT OF OXYGEN. DID THEY MENTION THAT TO YOU? DID THEY TELL YOU THAT? >> NO, NO, THEY DIDN’T TELL ME. >> Bob: WHY NOT? WHY WOULDN’T THEY? >> THEY SAY, WE ARE ON THE WAY BACK. >> Reporter: JUST BEFORE 3 p.m., SHRIYA AND THE SHERPAS STARTED BACK DOWN.

WHEN WE RETURN, ONE OF MOUNT EVEREST’S DARKEST DAYS. >> WE HAD THE SENSE THAT WE WERE REALLY IN, NOT CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN, BUT, REALLY, YOU KNOW, JUST SEEING ONE HORRIBLE MOMENT AFTER ANOTHER. >> Bob: IT WAS JUST BEFORE 3 p.m. ON MAY THE 19th WHEN SHRIYA SHAH LEFT THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST, HEADED IN THE ONLY POSSIBLE DIRECTION: DOWN. NOT ONLY WERE THERE DANGEROUSLY FEW HOURS OF DAYLIGHT LEFT, BUT, WORSE, THE WEATHER WAS ABOUT TO DRAMATICALLY CHANGE. WINDS INCREASING THAT EVENING TO CLOSE TO HURRICANE FORCE. TEMPERATURES PLUMMETING TO MINUS 40. BY THE TIME SHRIYA BEGAN HER DESCENT, IT WAS ALREADY MID-AFTERNOON ON MAY THE 19th. SHE’D BEEN CLIMBING FOR 20 HOURS STRAIGHT. AFTER THE ADRENALINE RUSH AT THE SUMMIT, BY NOW, HER FEELING OF FATIGUE MUST HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMING. >> SO HERE WE ARE AT CAMP 4. DEATH ZONE. 7,900 METRES. >> WE’RE AT 8,000 METRES. >> Reporter: HALF A VERTICAL MILE BELOW AT CAMP 4, TWO OTHER CLIMBERS WERE ABOUT TO BEGIN THEIR SUMMIT PUSH.

SANDRA LEDUC OF OTTAWA IS A LAWYER WITH CANADA’S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. JON KEDROWSKI FROM COLORADO, A Ph.D. IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY. JUST AFTER DUSK, KEDROWSKI TOOK THIS PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING CLIMBERS ON THE MOUNTAIN ABOVE. HE FIRST ASSUMED THEY WERE SUMMITTERS GOING UP. THEN REALIZED THEY WERE ACTUALLY COMING DOWN, AFTER WHAT MUST HAVE BEEN ALREADY MORE THAN A DAY IN THE DEATH ZONE. >> AND, DEFINITIVELY, WHAT’S THE IMPLICATION OF THAT TO YOU? >> SO, AS SOON AS I SAW THAT HAPPENING — AND THEN THAT’S WHY I DID SNAP THE PHOTO. I SAID TO MYSELF, THIS ISN’T GOOD. LIKE, WHY ARE PEOPLE UP THERE THAT LONG? >> Reporter: AS SANDRA LEDUC AND JON KEDROWSKI LEFT FOR THE SUMMIT, EVEREST DEATH ZONE WAS ABOUT TO LIVE UP TO ITS NAME. LEDUC SAYS WHAT THEY SAW NEXT WAS LIKE A MORGUE. >> WE HAD THE SENSE THAT WE WERE REALLY IN, NOT CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN, BUT, REALLY, YOU KNOW, JUST SEEING ONE HORRIBLE MOMENT AFTER ANOTHER.

>> Reporter: WITHIN AN HOUR, THERE WAS THE FIRST BODY. A FELLOW CLIMBER HOOKED TO THE ROPE LINE. KEDROWSKI SAYS HE COULDN’T TELL IF HE WAS STILL ALIVE, BUT THAT HE WAS OBVIOUSLY BEYOND HELP. >> IF YOU BELIEVED THAT PERSON WERE STILL BREATHING… >> MM-HMM. >> WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE? >> ALONE, HONESTLY, NOT MUCH. YOU COULD TRY TO DRAG HIM, BUT THEN IT PHYSICALLY EXERTS YOU SO BAD THAT, THAT YOU CAN’T THERE’S LITERALLY NOTHING YOU CAN DO. YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE PEOPLE AROUND YOU TO HELP PICK THE PERSON UP, SO THAT WAS KIND OF WHY I KEPT JUST GOING UP.

>> Bob: IN ALL THAT NIGHT, HE HAD TO STEP AROUND THREE CLIMBERS ON THE LINE WHO WERE DEAD OR DYING. THEN HE ABANDONED HIS OWN SUMMIT ATTEMPT TO HELP OTHERS IN DESPERATE NEED TO DESCEND. SEVERAL HUNDRED METRES ABOVE, THE TWO SHERPAS HAD KEPT PUSHING SHRIYA, PHYSICALLY AND VERBALLY. PEMBA SHERPA SAYS HE USED THE NEPALESE WORD WHICH MEANS “BIG SISTER.” >> IT WAS NOW SEVEN HOURS SINCE THEY’D LEFT THE SUMMIT. 27 CONSECUTIVE HOURS OF CLIMBING IN THE DEATH ZONE. >> ONCE YOU GET ABOVE 8,000 METRES, IT’S THE CLOSEST THING TO BEING IN OUTER SPACE.

LACK OF OXYGEN ITSELF JUST COMPLETELY TRASHES YOUR BODY. YOUR BODY STARTS TO, BASICALLY, WHAT THEY SAY IS CONSUME ITSELF. IT USES SO MUCH ENERGY THAT YOU DO HAVE LEFT OVER TO FUNCTION. THAT IT CANNOT YOU JUST CAN’T EVEN SURVIVE VERY MUCH LONGER THAN 20 HOURS. >> I’VE READ COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE WHO SAY THINGS LIKE, YOU KNOW, SHERPAS CAN JUST STRAP YOU ON THEIR BACK AND CARRY YOU, AND THAT’S COMPLETELY FALSE. I CHALLENGE ANYONE, AGAIN, WHO SAYS THAT, TO — TO GO TO EVEREST AND SEE IT FOR THEMSELVES. >> Reporter: SHRIYA AND THE SHERPAS NOW BEGAN TO ENCOUNTER THAT NEXT WAVE OF CLIMBERS HEADING UP. SHRIYA PLEADED FOR HELP FROM THE PASSERS-BY. “PLEASE DON’T LET ME DIE,” SHE SAID. HER SHERPAS, NEARING EXHAUSTION THEMSELVES, STRUGGLED TO KEEP HER ON HER FEET. >> Reporter: REMEMBER, SHRIYA HAD GOT THAT LAST OXYGEN BOTTLE AT THE HILLARY STEP THAT MORNING, ABOUT 11 HOURS EARLIER.

HOW LONG WOULD THAT OXYGEN LIKELY LAST? >> PROBABLY ABOUT FOUR HOURS. >> Bob: ACCORDING TO VETERAN GUIDE RUSSELL BRICE, SHE’D BEEN GIVEN ENOUGH TO GO UP BUT NOT TO COME BACK DOWN. >> SO, SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN WELL RUNNING OUT OF OXYGEN — >> BY THE TIME SHE GOT TO THE HILLARY, THE BOTTOM OF THE HILLARY STEP AGAIN, BY THE SOUNDS OF IT. >> SO SHE PROBABLY HAD TO GO FROM PROBABLY THE SOUTH SUMMIT TO THE BALCONY WITHOUT OXYGEN. >> Reporter: ACCORDING TO THE SHERPAS, IT WAS AFTER 10 p.m. WHEN SHRIYA STOPPED MOVING AND SPEAKING ALTOGETHER. HIGH ON THE LEDGE KNOWN AS THE BALCONY, AT ABOUT 8400 METRES OR 27,600 FEET, THEY SECURED HER CLIMBING APPARATUS TO THE ROPE LINE AND THEN THEY LEFT HER THERE, AMONG THE HUNDREDS OF OTHER CLIMBERS FROM THE HISTORY OF MOUNT EVEREST WHOSE FROZEN BODIES REMAIN IN THE DEATH ZONE.

NOT LONG AFTERWARDS, ANOTHER SHERPA WAS ON HIS WAY UP WHEN HE SAW SOMEONE WHO OBVIOUSLY NEEDED HELP. >> DRESSED IN A DOWN SUIT LIKE A CANADIAN FLAG. RED AND WHITE. >> RED AND WHITE DESIGN OF THE FLAG. >> YEAH. >> SO, YOU RECOGNIZED THAT AS THE CANADIAN. >> YEAH. >> Bob: AND PEMBA RECOGNIZED THE WOMAN WHOSE PICTURE HE HAD SEEN AT BASE CAMP, THE CANADIAN BORN IN NEPAL. HE, TOO, SPOKE TO HER USING THE NEPALI WORD FOR “BIG SISTER”. >> YEAH, I CALL, LIKE NEPALI. I TOLD HER THREE TIME, FOUR TIMES. >> Bob: THEN, SUDDENLY, UNEXPECTEDLY, SHRIYA SEEMED TO TRY TO SAY SOMETHING. >> LIKE SOUND… UGH. I LISTENING SOUND. >> SHE SPOKE TO YOU? >> NOT SPOKE, BUT, LIKE, UGH. JUST SOUND. >> Reporter: HE SAYS HE ATTEMPTED TO REVIVE HER, BUT IT WAS TOO LATE. >> AFTER I TAKE OUT WATER AND OXYGEN, AFTER I CALLING FOUR TIME, SHE DIDN’T RESPOND ME.

>> Reporter: WHEN HE REALIZED SHRIYA WAS NO LONGER BREATHING, PEMBA TOOK THIS PICTURE. THEN HE LEFT, LOOKING FOR OTHERS WHO NEEDED HELP. THAT NIGHT, THERE WAS NO SHORTAGE. >> ONCE A CLIMB IN BEYOND THE POINT OF RESCUE, A SHERPA, A GUIDE, ANYBODY, HAS TO BE ABLE TO SAVE THEMSELVES. TO SAY THAT SOMEBODY WAS ACTUALLY ABANDONED VERSUS THEY WERE BEYOND HELP IS A DIFFICULT THING THAT YOU CAN’T SAY IF YOU DON’T HAVE FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE OF IT. >> Reporter: THE FOLLOWING DAY, SHRIYA’S SHERPAS RADIOED THE AWFUL NEWS TO BASE CAMP. SHRIYA’S COUSIN, SHWETA… >> JUST THE TIME UNTIL WE DIDN’T GET THE NEWS THERE’S THE BODY.

WE HAD EXPECTED THAT SHE’S STILL ALIVE. SO I STOP. AND THEN HE TOLD THAT IT’S NOT, HE TOLD ME THAT IT’S NOT POSSIBLE. IT’S ABOUT, DIFFERENT COLOURS FROM OTHER CLIMBERS, AND THERE’S THE CANADIAN FLAG, TOO. SO… IT’S BELONG TO HER. >> Bob: SHRIYA’S BODY WOULD REMAIN ABOVE 8,000 METRES FOR TEN DAYS, UNTIL A RESCUE PARTY MANAGED TO RETURN TO THE DEATH ZONE AND CARRY HER BACK DOWN. >> Bob: SHRIYA SHAH WAS CREMATED IN KATHMANDU. ACCORDING TO HINDU TRADITION, HER HUSBAND LIT THE FUNERAL PYRE.

BRUCE KLORFINE SAYS HE NOW ACCEPTS THAT HIS WIFE HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING ON MOUNT EVEREST. >> IF SHE ACCOMPLISHED THAT, IT WOULD CHANGE THE WAY SHE FEELS ABOUT HERSELF. I MEAN, SHE WOULD ALWAYS HAVE THAT SORT OF NOTCH IN HER BELT, AND IT’S A HUGE THING. IT’S SOMETHING THAT EVERYBODY RELATES TO. >> Bob: AND, ULTIMATELY, HE KNOWS THIS WORST OF ENDINGS WAS BROUGHT ABOUT IN SOME IMPORTANT PART BY WHAT WAS BEST IN SHRIYA. >> IT’S, IT’S AMAZING. WHEN I THINK BACK TO HER TELLING ME THAT SHE WANTS TO DO IT, TO HER ACTUALLY DOING IT… I MEAN, I’M FLOORED. LIKE, HOW CAN — YOU KNOW — I WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT IT POSSIBLE, BUT I DID COME TO RESPECT THE DETERMINATION AND I KNEW THAT THERE WAS SOME SUBSTANCE TO IT. >> Bob: WHEN WE COME BACK… >> WHEN PEOPLE DIE ON EVEREST, THERE’S NO NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE FOR THE NEPALESE GOVERNMENT, FOR THE BUREAUCRATS. THEY MAKE THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, EITHER WAY. >> Bob: SHRIYA SHAH WAS ONE OF TEN CLIMBERS WHO DIDN’T RETURN ALIVE FROM MOUNT EVEREST THIS SEASON. THE THIRD WORST DEATH TOLL IN HISTORY.

WHICH RAISES SOME FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS. IF THIS SO-CALLED TRAFFIC JAM ON MAY 18th CONTRIBUTED TO THE CARNAGE, HOW MIGHT ANOTHER ONE BE AVOIDED? SHOULD THE NUMBER OF CLIMBERS ON EVEREST BE LIMITED? SHOULD NOVICES LIKE SHRIYA BE REFUSED ACCESS ALL TOGETHER? IN A COUNTRY WHERE THE AVERAGE NEPALI EARNS LESS THAN $700 A YEAR, MOUNT EVEREST GENERATES ANNUAL REVENUE OF ALMOST $100 MILLION. STILL, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SAID THEY COULDN’T ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS BECAUSE THEY HADN’T CONSIDERED THEM BEFORE. THAT DOESN’T SURPRISE GRAYSON SCHAFFER OF “OUTSIDE” MAGAZINE. >> FOR THEM TO SUDDENLY LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CLIMBING PERMITS THAT THEY’RE WILLING TO ISSUE WOULD — WOULD JUST BE LIKE SHOOTING THEMSELVES IN THE FOOT. WHEN PEOPLE DIE ON EVEREST, THERE’S NO NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE FOR THE NEPALESE GOVERNMENT, FOR THE BUREAUCRATS. THEY MAKE THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY EITHER WAY, AND THE MORE PEOPLE THAT DIE ON EVEREST, THE MORE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TRY EVEREST. >> Reporter: THE GUIDE KNOWN AS EVEREST’S “BIG BOSS, RUSSELL BRICE, WHO CANCELLED HIS EXPEDITION THIS YEAR, BELIEVES ALL EVEREST COMPANIES MUST PUT SAVING LIVES AHEAD OF GETTING TO THE TOP.

>> PART OF OUR PROBLEM OVER THE YEARS IS WE’VE BECOME TOO SUCCESSFUL, AND IT LOOKS AS THOUGH IT’S ALMOST AUTOMATIC THAT PEOPLE CAN GET TO THE SUMMIT OF THE MOUNTAIN. BUT IT’S NOT TRUE. IT CAN, IT CAN COME BACK AND BITE YOU, AND THAT’S WHAT IT DID THIS YEAR. >> Man: ABOUT TO HEAD OUT. EVEREST… CAN’T WAIT TO GET UP THERE. >> Bob: AS FOR SANDRA LEDUC AND JON KEDROWSKI, JUST DAYS AFTER THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH LIFE AND DEATH ON EVEREST, THEY DID SOMETHING REMARKABLE, TOO. TOGETHER, THEY CLIMBED BACK INTO THE DEATH ZONE AND, THIS TIME, MADE IT TO THE SUMMIT. BOTH ASCENDING AND DESCENDING, THEY HAD TO PASS SHRIYA SHAH. >> THE FIRST MOMENT WHEN I WENT UP AND I SAW THE CANADIAN FLAG, I FELT, I FELT SICK, AND WHEN I CAME DOWN, THEN I WANTED TO CRY AND SO… I DIDN’T KNOW THE CONNECTION. I DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HER THEN, BUT I WAS ALREADY JUST THINKING ABOUT, UM, YOU KNOW, HER — HER FAMILY, BECAUSE I COULD HAVE– IF IT HAD BEEN ME, I KNOW HOW MY FAMILY WOULD HAVE FELT.

IT WAS HARD, BECAUSE SHE’S — YOU KNOW, SHE’S A REAL PERSON. SHE HAD PEOPLE WHO — WHO CARED ABOUT HER AND WHO — WHO ARE GOING TO BE DEALING WITH THIS, YOU KNOW, FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. >> Bob: SO, WHAT WILL BE SHRIYA SHAH’S LEGACY? WILL HER STORY BRING CHANGE ON MOUNT EVEREST, OR WILL IT BE JUST ONE STORY OF MANY MORE TO COME? >> YOU KNOW, I THINK UNLESS THE NEPALESE GOVERNMENT COMES TO ITS SENSES AND DECIDES THAT THEY’RE EITHER GOING TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CLIMBERS OR SOMEHOW PUT RESTRICTIONS, PREREQUISITES FOR CLIMBERS WHO WANT TO TRY THE MOUNTAIN, THIS IS ACTUALLY THE NEW NORMAL. THAT, FROM HERE ON OUT, EVERY YEAR, THERE WILL BE A SORT OF SLOW BLOODLETTING OF PEOPLE WHO PROBABLY SHOULDN’T BE THERE, WHO GO ANYWAY, YOU KNOW, WHO DON’T LISTEN TO REASON AND WHO, YOU KNOW, END UP WALKING UNTIL THEY DIE.

>> Bob: AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT FOR SOME OF THE PEOPLE YOU JUST HEARD TO SPEAK CANDIDLY ABOUT SHRIYA SO SOON AFTER HER DEATH. WE’D LIKE TO THANK HER FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR THEIR GENEROSITY IN SHARING THEIR EXPERIENCES..

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