Andy Harris (mountain guide)
Andrew Michael Harris
29 September 1964
|Died||10 May 1996 (aged 31)|
Mount Everest, Nepal
|Occupation||Mountain guide, helicopter skiing guide|
Andrew Michael "Harold" Harris, NZBS (29 September 1964 – 10 May 1996) was a New Zealand mountain guide who died in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Harris was one of the guides for the Adventure Consultants 1996 Everest expedition, led by Rob Hall. It was Harris' first attempt to summit Mount Everest, though he had extensive climbing experience in New Zealand.
At the time of his death, Harris was survived by his parents Ron and Marry Harris, his older brother David Harris, and his physician girlfriend Fiona McPherson. He was living with McPherson and in the process of building a house with her in the hills outside Queenstown.
At a younger age, Harris was a student at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth. During the winter months, Harris was employed as a helicopter skiing guide. During the summers, he worked for scientists conducting archaeological research in Antarctica as a New Zealand Antarctic Research Program (NZARP) field leader from 1987 until 1992, and escorted climbers into New Zealand's Southern Alps.
In 1985 Harris climbed Chobutse (6690m), a difficult peak which stands close to Everest. In the fall of 1994, he helped McPherson in a medical clinic in Pheriche. The clinic's main purpose was to treat altitude-related illnesses.
1996 Everest disaster
The Adventure Consultants' Everest expedition of 1996 consisted of three guides (Rob Hall, Mike Groom, and Andy Harris) and eight clients (Frank Fischbeck, Doug Hansen, Stuart Hutchison, Lou Kasischke, Jon Krakauer, Yasuko Namba, John Taske, and Beck Weathers).
Before even reaching Base Camp, Harris suffered from multiple gastrointestinal attacks at the lodge in Lobuje, while the party was preparing to go to Base Camp. Despite being advised to remain at Lobuje one more night, Harris proceeded to Base Camp with the rest of the party on 8 April 1996.
On 8 May during a climb, Harris was struck in the chest by a boulder the size of a small television. Although shocked, Harris continued to climb, but later realized that if the boulder had hit his head, he would not have survived.
Shortly after midnight on 10 May, the Adventure Consultants expedition began a summit attempt from Camp IV, on top of the South Col.
At approximately 1:12 PM, Harris, Anatoli Boukreev, and Krakauer reached the top of Everest. They then started to descend. Krakauer asked Harris if he could turn off his oxygen, so he could save it. Harris complied but accidentally turned the oxygen all the way up.
Later on, Harris checked on some oxygen canisters near the Southeast Ridge, and stated they were all empty, which they were not. It is believed Harris was suffering from hypoxia, which would explain some of the irrational actions he took. It has, however, never been proven.
Upon returning to Camp IV Krakauer, possibly suffering from the effects of hypoxia, believed he had encountered Harris on the ridge above camp. Krakauer reported having seen him fall over the ridge to camp, stand, and stumble back towards camp. Krakauer, meanwhile, took the longer route around back to the tents but reported to others at camp that Harris had safely returned. In actuality, the climber he encountered was likely a client from the Mountain Madness expedition, Martin Adams. In the morning, on May 12, after a search of camp, the climbers at Camp IV realized that Harris was missing.
Krakauer, who survived the disaster, wrote a magazine article and then a book on the subject after the events. Regarding his failure to recognize that Andy Harris was weakened and acting irrationally from altitude and lack of oxygen, Krakauer wrote that his own "actions - or failure to act - played a direct role in the death of Andy Harris."
Harris' ice axe and jacket were found near Rob Hall's body several days later. Before he died, Hall also mentioned that Harris had been with him, but was now missing. It is likely that Harris went to aid Rob Hall and Doug Hansen when they were trapped higher up on the mountain as the storm came in. It is unknown what truly happened to him; his body was never found.
A few minutes from Gorakshep towards the Everest Base Camp, a memorial was built for the members of the Adventure Consultants' team that died during the expedition: Andy Harris, Rob Hall, Doug Hansen and Yasuko Namba.
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