Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Neal Beidleman, a survivor of the 1996 Everest climbing disaster, the most devastating mountaineering disaster in history, decided to go back 15 years later to retrace his exact route in hopes of making peace with it all. Beidleman took this photo as the team was nearing the South Summit on May 20, 2011, at 4:30 a.m. with mountain peaks Lhotse and Makalu in the background.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    "It just didn't seem right to me at all that that would be the last word, that Everest ever spoke to me," climber Neal Beidleman told "Nightline" anchor Cynthia McFadden. In 1996, six climbers from his team died while attempting to reach Everest's summit. Beidleman decided to go back in May 2011. Shown here is the village of Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu Region of Nepal taken in May 2011.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    During the fatal 1996 expedition, Neal Beidleman was working as a guide under his close friend and seasoned mountaineer Scott Fischer. Fischer died during that climb and Beidleman said he has never truly understood why until he went back. Shown here is Fischer's memorial on the trek into Everest Basecamp.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Neal Beidleman took this photo of the Puja ceremony, conducted to bring blessings to the expedition, before starting to climb above Basecamp in May 2011.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    During the Puja ceremony in Basecamp, some of the climbers' personal gear was also blessed.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Everest basecamp is located almost 17,000 feet above sea level. Beidleman said that surviving the 1996 tragedy brought him a kind of clarity about life -- lessons about responsibility and blame, about facing your fears and about grief. "We were all there climbing for our own personal reasons. It was a choice that we made to go to the mountain to climb," he said.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Shown here is Neal Beidleman's climbing team at the top of the Khumbu Icefall, almost 18,000 feet above sea level. "One last massive crevasse is crossed via multi-ladder bridge," he said. Putting one foot in front of the other in the icy abyss is a deliberate and careful balancing act and many have plummeted to their deaths. "It's a very difficult place to be," Beidleman said.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Shown here is Neal Beidleman's team ascending the steep and icy Lhotse Face at 23,000 feet above sea level in May 2011. Theories about what went wrong on that fateful 1996 climb have been debated for years, but Beidleman said that no one person or one event caused the deaths. One image that Beidleman said would stick with him forever is the vicious "jungle storm" that snuck up on them back then.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Photo of mountain peak Pumori, as seen from CIII, taken at 23,500 feet above sea level on May 2011. Among the many factors that contributed to the 1996 tragedy, Beidleman says, is that team leaders decided to keep heading to the summit too late in the day to safely get down.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    A sherpa climbs through the Yellow Band at 25,000 feet above sea level between CIII and CIV peaks in May 2011. At high altitudes, oxygen is so thin, the brain gets foggy and judgments are clouded. "Almost all climbing accidents happen on the descent. It's very dangerous to come down," he told "Nightline." "It's much easier to walk downhill, than it is up, so people can easily trip."
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Shown here is Neal Beidleman's team descending the Hillary Step just below the summit at 28,850 above sea level. Six hours into their summit climb in 2011, Beidleman said he started struggling to breathe, even though his oxygen tank seemed fine, and he knew he was in trouble. "I was like, what is going on here," he said. "I started lagging behind...it definitely made me a little worried."
    Neal Beidleman 2011
  • Mount Everest

    Another climber noticed Neal Beidleman's oxygen mask had pulled away from the frame, depriving him of oxygen. "It snaps back into place," he said. "My head clears, and all of a sudden, I'm like, 'oh, that was it.'" Beidleman told "Nightline" he now believes his friend Scott Fischer died after his oxygen ran out. In this photo, two Sherpa celebrate at the summit at 29,035 feet, on May 20, 2011.
    Neal Beidleman 2011
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