December 24, 1955|
Michigan, United States
|Died||May 11, 1996
Mount Everest, Nepal
|Cause of death||Exposure, AMS|
|Known for||First American to summit Lhotse|
Fischer spent his early life in Michigan and New Jersey and took two years of climbing courses after being inspired at the age of 14 by a show he saw on television. In 1982, he and his wife, Jean Price, moved west to Seattle, Washington, where they raised two children, Andy and Katie Rose.
In 1984, Fischer formed his own adventure company, Mountain Madness, which he set up to guarantee clients the summit of the world's highest mountains for fees in the $50,000 range. In 1992, while climbing K2 successfully, he was involved in a daring rescue of Chantal Mauduit, a French climber who became severely snow blind. She went on to climb five more eight-thousanders but died in an avalanche on Dhaulagiri in 1998. From the 1992 season, Fischer brought a new level of commercialism to climbing adventures.
He died in the 1996 Everest disaster on May 10, the worst tragedy in the climbing history of Mount Everest. On May 10, 1996, Fischer, Anatoli Boukreev, and Neal Beidleman guided all eight of their clients to the summit of Everest. On the descent, the team was caught in a severe snowstorm. All the climbers managed to reach Camp IV on the South Col (7,900 m or 25,900 feet), except Fischer.
Fischer, who had reached the summit at around 3:45 pm, had severe difficulties on the descent. He was accompanied by sirdar (chief Sherpa) Lopsang Jangbu, but just below the south summit, Fischer was unable to continue and finally coaxed Lopsang to descend without him. Lopsang did so, hoping to be able to send someone else back up with additional oxygen and help Fischer get down. Boukreev, after descending ahead of his clients earlier in the day, made several attempts to reach Fischer, but turned back on the first two attempts due to the weather, though he succeeded in rescuing several other stranded people.
While Boukreev was rescuing clients Charlotte Fox and Sandy Pittman, two sherpas were finally, around 7 pm on May 11, able to reach Fischer and Taiwanese expedition leader Makalu Gau's position. Unfortunately, by that time, Scott had already passed away. Although severely frostbitten, Makalu Gau was rescued by the sherpas. Many speculate that Fischer had been suffering from a severe form of altitude sickness, either HACE or HAPE. A memorial cairn for Scott Fischer can be found at the top of a hill called Dugla Pass, near the village of Dugla, on the trail to Everest base camp. All Everest climbers using the southern route have to pass a group of five bodies, amongst them Fischer. In May 2010, the bodies of Swiss climber Gianni Goltz and Russian Sergej Duganow were removed. Fischer's body remains in situ, in accordance with his family's wishes.
Accounts of what happened in 1996 are given in the books The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev and Gary DeWalt, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, Left for Dead by Beck Weathers, and Climbing High by Lene Gammelgaard. Mountain Madness by Robert Birkby is a biography of Scott Fischer.
In the TV movie Into Thin Air: Death on Everest, Fischer was played by Peter Horton.
- "Everest-Räum-Equipe findet fünf Leichen: Schweizer Alpinist Gianni Goltz geborgen", Blick, May 26, 2010, updated January 2, 2012 (German)
- Mara Berry, "Il corpo di Scott Fischer ritrovato sull’Everest", Montagna TV, June 10, 2010 (Italian)
- Harsimran Julka, "Everyone has his own Everest to climb: Jamling Norgay", The Economic Times, April 10, 2012.