I was watching Everest (2015) and I can't help but wonder if Rob and many others died because of Doug's adamance to reach the top.

If Rob hadn't agreed with Doug, they would've been heading down. They wasted time going up and then coming down. Rob was the most experienced of them and maybe his presence with the team could have saved a few more lives?

Was it because of Doug's adamance that people died?

6 Answers 6


That is part of the reason but part of what the movie portrays is how many seemingly little oversights contributed to the disaster. You can't boil it down to one single reason.

The following analysis of the disaster from wikipedia does a good job of explaining the multiple factors that led to the disaster.

It lists:

  • Too many climbers: (congestion) leading to bottleneck on the Hillary Step and keeping climbers from turning around on time
  • Not enough experience: Rob Hall and Scott Fischer and their crews ultimately had to push themselves beyond their abilities to take care of their clients
  • Commercial aspect: There was additional pressure to get everyone to the summit so they could have their money's worth, also Jon Krakauer's presence added pressure for them to have a successful climb as he would be writing about it.
  • Low oxygen levels: The oxygen levels may have contributed to many of the poor decisions and mistakes made.
  • Over confidence: Rob Hall and Scot Fischer had a competitive relationship and reputations for getting people to the top, and they also had a high success record. Something was bound to give, given the statistical probabilities of fatalities on the mountain.

The disaster was partially caused by the sheer number of climbers attempting to ascend (34 climbers on 10 May 1996). The congestion of the crowd, combined with delays in securing ropes, caused bottlenecks at the Hillary Step and the Balcony and delayed the ascent of many climbers. Therefore, many summitted after the safe 14:00 turnaround time.

Jon Krakauer has suggested that the use of bottled oxygen and commercial guides, who personally accompanied and took care of all pathmaking, equipment, and important decisions, allowed otherwise unqualified climbers to attempt to summit, leading to dangerous situations and more deaths. In addition, he wrote that the competition between Hall and Fischer's guiding companies may have led to Hall's decision not to turn back on 10 May after the pre-decided time for summiting of 14:00; Krakauer also acknowledges that his own presence as a journalist for an important magazine for mountaineers may have added pressure to guide clients to the summit despite growing dangers. He proposed banning bottled oxygen except for emergency cases, arguing that this would both decrease the growing pollution on Everest—many discarded bottles have accumulated on its slopes—and keep marginally qualified climbers off the mountain. He does point out, however, that climbing Everest has always been a highly dangerous endeavour even before the guided tours, with one fatality for every four climbers who reach the summit. Furthermore, he notes that many of the poor decisions made on 10 May were after two or more days of inadequate oxygen, nourishment, and rest (due to the effects of entering the death zone above 8,000 m/26,000 ft). He concludes that decisions made in such circumstances should not be strongly criticized by the general population, who have not experienced such conditions.

Krakauer also elaborated on the statistical curiosities of fatality rates on Everest and how 1996 was "business as usual". The record number of 12 fatalities in the spring climbing season that year was 3% of the 398 climbers who had ascended above Base Camp—slightly below the historical average of 3.3% at that time. Additionally, 12 climbers had died that season, and 84 had reached the summit. This is a ratio of 1 in 7—significantly less than the historical average prior to 1996 of 1 in 4. Since the fatality rates on Everest have dropped considerably, accounting for the volume of climbers in 1996 compared to prior years, 1996 was statistically a safer-than-average year.

In May 2004, Kent Moore, a physicist, and John L. Semple, a surgeon, both researchers from the University of Toronto, told New Scientist magazine that an analysis of weather conditions on 11 May suggested that freak weather caused oxygen levels to plunge by around 6% resulting in a 14% reduction in oxygen uptake.

  • 1
    It should be noted that 4 out of 5 South Face route deaths were part of Rob Halls expedition. Only Scott Fischer perished from his expedition. The other 3 deaths were on the North Face route. This brings into question a lot of the reasons listed above I think
    – Drenai
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 13:07

I think Rob Hall and Harold died because of Doug's selfish stubborn unrealistic desire to summit when he clearly was in trouble. Several people including Sherpas told him to turn around and he refused. Rob clearly felt sorry for this guy who probably idolized climbers like Scott and Rob. In a moments bad decision Rob saw clearly that it was his inability to turn Doug around that caused his collapse later and felt guilt so he stayed with him to get him to safety. I think Doug was beyond his level of mountaineering and might have perished anyways from hypoxia but Rob would of made it. It was a series of bad decisions based on emotion rather than logic, freak weather causing even lower levels of oxygen in the air and two back to back storms. Tragic and sad. I base all this on interviews and documentaries I have seen with the survivors telling there experiences and various articles I have read.


I have watched and read everything I have could on this disaster, and have been obsessed with it. It is an amazing and tragic story, both for all the unfortunate deaths, but the amazing stories of survival, in particular Beck Weathers. That was one tough and resilient dude.

As far as "Doug's fault" - if anything that decision is Rob's fault. It is well known that Rob had his pride/ego on the line because it was Doug's 2nd year. Rob is the experienced leader and chose to take on a 2nd time a man who basically wasn't capable of summitting Everest.

First, Doug wasn't even in good shape. Second they were way past the 2pm turnaround time. Rob made a very bad call because of business and pride reason's. Blaming Doug is ridiculous when you take into account, not only his lack of experience climbing let alone with 8000ers...but also his current state at the time, hypoxic.

I believe that if Rob Hall was more of a jerk, people would have been more critical of his decision to get Doug to the summit PAST the turnaround time of 2pm. But because he was a nice and caring guy, people tend to overlook that. Human nature just like Doctor's who get sued for malpratice are the jerks, even if they make less mistakes than the nice one's. I also believe this is why Krakaeur is hard on Anatoli Bourkreev...he was a brash-type and aruguably the best mountaineer of the bunch as one of Scott's guides.

Because of Rob Hall's bad decision as the expedition leader, both he and Doug died. Yes other event's are tied to this, but given Doug Hansens's state and extra energy required to get to the summit, and the time they lost before the storm hit, they may have well lived, or Rob may have because they would have made it further than the Hillary step before Doug became incapacitated and could no longer move. Closer to the oxygen bottles as well, on the South Col.

Truth is it's all tragic and none of us were there, but like an airplane crash, it is usually a chain of events, though it appears to mean in the moment decision's like Rob's to not argue with Doug to continue. Perhaps it wasn't in Rob's capacity as he was too "nice", but nice doesn't save lives unfortunately in this case.


There were too many mistakes, from the ropes not being done timely to people not turning around. As leaders in such a dangerous climb, the ball was dropped by many. Including lead Sherpas.

  • Please just don't give one-line answer. Add details to your answer and sources if there.
    – A J
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 4:18

The biggest problem barely getting mentioned is the lack of ropes. They didn't get installed as they were supposed to because Lopsang didn't show up to help Ang Dorje set the ropes. Apparently this was due, at least in part, to helping Sandy Pittman be a diva on the mountain. This held everyone up for one to two hours. Those wanting to blame Rob Hall because more of his team died should remember that Lopsang and Pittman were on Scotts team.

Boukreev was a great mountaineer but not a great guide. It was heroic what he did in the end though.

The other three that died were not on the other side of the mountain. They were part of the Taiwanese team. One of them is now known as "green boots". At least one of the Taiwanese team survived and got flown out of camp one just like Beck Weathers.


No, earlier on summit day Doug moved out of the line of climbers and began to descend, saying to Lou that "he was cold and feeling bad and heading down". Rob Hall talked to him and he got back in line and continued climbing

This is from Into Thin Air, Camp Three May 9th chapter

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