1996 Everest Case Study

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Introduction: This case study focuses on two mountaineering companies, Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness, and what went wrong on May 10, 1996, when a total of five climbers from these two teams died while on a final summit push on Mount Everest. Even more troubling is the fact that two of these people, Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, were the leaders of the companies, and each had impressive experience on Everest. Many factors combined to create this tragedy, including weather, varying ability of climbers, and sickness. However, one glaring error no the part of each company’s leadership stands out as a decision that may very well have cost all five lives: Neither Hall nor Fisher established or enforced a turnaround time for…show more content…
243). Relevant tests include the “personal gain test,” where one should ask if an opportunity for personal gain is clouding one’s judgment, and the “congruence test,” where one asks if the decision or action to be taken is consistent with one’s espoused principles. If Hall and Fisher were to go through the decision-making process over summiting past 2pm in a rational way, it is highly unlikely that they would have proceeded. The bottom line is that this was not a decision to be made on summit day at 29,000 feet, where a whole host of complications, such as physical ailments, altitude sickness, and irrational emotions come into play. Unfortunately, no protocols were established for the teams, nor were there any contrarian opinions, or devils advocates, to question the expedition leaders’ rationales. These oversights were due to problems within each group’s dynamics, and a resulting lack of open communication within each team. Despite differences in personal leadership style, both Hall and Fisher established their authority as unquestionable over both junior guides and clients. The resulting group dynamics created a climate that was hostile to open discussion and constructive dissent. Hall actually told his clients, "I will tolerate no dissension...my word will be absolute law beyond appeal" (Pittenger, K., 2004, p. 7). Even guides for each team were made to feel

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