Beck Weathers

Beck Weathers

Beck Weathers 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.

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. He 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. 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.

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, 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. 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.

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.

Left for Dead:

My Journey Home from Everest

Dell, 2001

"I can tell you that some force within me rejected death at the last moment and then guided me, blind and stumbling — quite literally a dead man walking — into camp and the shaky start of my return to life...."

In 1996 Beck Weathers and a climbing team pushed toward the summit of Mount Everest. Then a storm exploded on the mountain, ripping the team to shreds, forcing brave men to scratch and crawl for their lives. Rescuers who reached Weathers saw that he was dying, and left him.

Twelve hours later, the inexplicable occurred. Weathers appeared, blinded, gloveless, caked with ice — coming down the mountain as a "dead man walking."

In this powerful memoir, Weather describes not only his escape from hypothermia and the murderous storm that killed nine climbers; he describes another journey, a life's journey. This is the story of a man's route to a dangerous sport and a fateful expedition, as well as the road of recovery he has traveled since.

In Left for Dead, we are witness to survival in the face of certain death, the reclaiming of a family and a life, and the most remarkable adventure of all: what we can do when we're offered a second chance.

Left for Dead

From Publishers Weekly:
A survivor of the disastrous Mt. Everest expedition described in Jon Krakauer's bestseller Into Thin Air, Weathers is the climber many readers will remember from searing media photos of a man with heavily bandaged hands and a face so badly frostbitten it scarcely seemed human. In fact, Weathers had been abandoned by his fellow mountaineers as dead and spent some 18 hours on the mountain in subzero temperatures before miraculously regaining his senses and staggering into camp. Back in the U.S., Weathers, who is a physician, lost both hands and underwent extensive facial reconstruction. But there were other wounds to heal: he had neglected his family so much in pursuit of his hobby that his wife had decided to end the marriage once he returned. Co-written with Michaud (The Evil That Men Do; The Only Living Witness), this book deals in part with the climb but mainly with Weathers's life before and after the catastrophe. The man who wrote this book doesn't seem any less self-absorbed than the one who climbed Mt. Everest. In the years before the disaster, Weathers spent every spare moment pursuing his own interests as his wife and children became strangers to him. Now he claims to have rediscovered his family, but, unfortunately, the reader learns very little about them. Ultimately, this engrossing tale depicts the difficulty of a man's struggle to reform his life.

The Dark Side of Everest

Compilation of videos from TED and National Geographic on the 1996 Everest disaster. Eight people died on May 10, 1996 during summit attempts.

One of the survivors, Beck Weathers, who was left to die - spent a whole night in an open bivouac in a terrible blizzard with both hands and his face 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.

Beck Weathers had his right arm amputated halfway below the elbow. All four fingers and the thumb on his left hand were removed; his nose was amputated and reconstructed with tissue from his ear and forehead and he lost parts of both feet to his injuries. He continues to practice medicine, and deliver motivational speeches from Dallas.