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Beck Weathers is a 70-year-old from Dallas, Texas. You may recognize his name, and that's because he was part of a group that scaled Mount Everest in 1996. It was one of the most tragic expeditions in mountain climbing history, and what Beck experienced on that peak changed his life forever.
Beck Weathers was an anatomical pathology expert. He earned a very good living and led a relatively happy life with his wife, Peach, and their children.
You can hear the story in Beck's own words in this interview:
But since the age of 20, Beck had been plagued by depression. His need to be alone would often lead him to abandon his family for short periods. This behavior was hard on them, especially his wife. For years she tolerated it, hoping that some day her husband would get better and stop turning his back on her.
When Beck announced that he wanted to climb the seven highest peaks in the world, his wife did not try to stand in his way. A few months later, he was on his way to Mount Everest.
In May 1996, at the age of 50, Beck started the ascension of the highest mountain on earth.
Beck and his team of mountaineers made slow progress up the mountain. As they reached higher altitudes, the effect of oxygen deprivation began to take hold and the cold was almost unbearable.
But finally they reached the peak. It had been a tough haul, but they had made it.
Beck felt a sense of joy that he had never before experienced in his life. The sky was clear and he was able to spend some time simply looking out over the world and enjoying the breathtaking view.
But suddenly the sky darkened. It was every mountaineer's worst nightmare — a storm was moving in fast and they would soon be trapped on the mountain. It was May 10, 1996, a day that would go down in history as the date of one of the worst tragedies in mountaineering history.
As he watched the storm blow in, Beck knew that he was about to face the toughest challenge of his life.
The team of mountaineers began the descent as fast as they could, but the storm blew in so quickly that they were soon stuck and could not go any further. They tucked into a rocky ridge for shelter and tried to wait out the storm. A few members of the team with enough strength continued down to base camp to try to get help. But the others remained on the mountainside overnight, struggling to survive the brutal wind and freezing temperatures.
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