Scott Fischer

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Scott Fischer
Scott on Fang (Wes) 1984 Cropped.jpg
Scott Fischer on the Annapurna in 1984
Born (1955-12-24)December 24, 1955
Michigan, United States
Died May 11, 1996(1996-05-11) (aged 40)
Mount Everest, Nepal
Cause of death Exposure, AMS
Nationality American
Occupation Mountain guide
Known for First American to summit Lhotse
Spouse(s) Jeannie Price
Children Andy Fischer-Price
Katie Rose Fischer-Price

Scott E. Fischer (December 24, 1955 – May 11, 1996) was an American mountaineer and mountain guide. He was renowned for his ascents of the world's highest mountains made without the use of supplemental oxygen. Fischer and Wally Berg were the first Americans to summit Lhotse (27,940 feet / 8516 m), the world's fourth highest peak.[1] Fischer and Ed Viesturs were the first Americans to summit K2 (28,251 feet/ 8611m) without supplemental oxygen.[2] Fischer first climbed Mount Everest (29,029 feet / 8,848 m) in 1994 and later died during the 1996 blizzard on Everest while descending from the peak.

Early Life[edit]

Fischer was the son of Shirley and Gene Fischer, and was of German, Dutch, and Hungarian ancestry. He spent his early life in Michigan and New Jersey.[3] After watching a TV documentary in 1970 about the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) with his father, he headed to the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming for the summer.[4] While in high school, he spent his summers in the mountains with NOLS, eventually becoming a full-time senior NOLS instructor.


In 1984, Fischer and Wes Krause became the second ever team to scale the Breach Icicle on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa after Reinhold Messner and Konrad Renzler in 1978.[5]

In 1984, Fischer and two friends, Wes Krause and Michael Allison, founded Mountain Madness, an adventure travel service.[6] He guided clients for climbing major mountain peaks around the world. In 1992, during the climb on K2 as a part of a Russian-American expedition, Fischer fell into a crevasse and tore the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. Against the advice of the doctor, Fischer spent two weeks trying to recover and asked climbing partner Ed Viesturs to tape his shoulder and tether it to his waist so it would not continue to dislocate and then resumed the climb using only his left arm. On their first summit bid, the climbers abandoned their attempt at Camp III to rescue Aleskei Nikiforov, Thor Keiser and Chantal Mauduit. Fischer and Ed Viesturs reached the summit on their second attempt without supplemental oxygen along with Charley Mace.[7] During descent, they met climbers Rob Hall and Gary Ball who were suffering with altitude sickness at camp II. Hall’s health improved along the descent but Ball required subsequent help from Fischer and the other climbers to reach the base.[8][9]

Through Mountain Madness, Fischer guided the 1993 Climb for the Cure on Denali (20,320 feet) in Alaska which was organized by eight students at Princeton University. The expedition raised $280,000 for the American Foundation for AIDS Research.[10][11] In 1994, Fischer and Rob Hess climbed Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen. They also formed a part of the expedition that removed 5000 pounds of trash and 150 discarded oxygen bottles from Everest.[12] With the climb, Fischer had climbed the top of the highest peaks on six of the seven continents with the exception of Vinson Massif in Antarctica.[13] The American Alpine Club awarded the David Brower Conservation Award to all members of the expedition.[14] In January 1996, Fischer and Mountain Madness guided a fundraising ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet / 5,895 m) in Africa.[15]


In May 1996, Fischer guided a team of 10 for climbing Everest which included two guides Neal Beidleman, Anatoli Boukreev and eight clients assisted by eight sherpas led by Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa. On May 6, the Mountain Madness team left base camp (5,364 meters) for their summit climb. At Camp II (6,400 meters), Fischer learned that his friend Dale Kruse was ill and was unable to make it out of Camp I (6,000 m). Fischer descended from Camp II, met up with Kruse and continued to base camp along with him. Leaving Kruse at the base camp, he ascended to rejoin his team at Camp II. He was slow on ascent to Camp III (7,200m) the following day and on May 9, he left Camp III for Camp IV at the South Col (7,950m). On May 10, Fischer reached the summit after 3:45 PM, much later than the safe turnaround time of 2:00 PM due to the unusually high number of climbers who tried to make it to the summit on the same day. He was exhausted from the ascent and becoming increasingly ill, possibly suffering from HAPE, HACE, or a combination of both. [16]

His climbing partner Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa descended part of the way with him when a blizzard started. Near the Southeast ridge balcony (8,400m), Fischer asked Lopsang to descend without him and send back Boukreev for help. After the storm subsided, on May 11, two Sherpas reached Fischer and "Makalu" Gau Ming-Ho, leader of a Taiwanese expedition. Fischer was unresponsive and the Sherpas placed an oxygen mask over his face before carrying Gau to Camp IV.[17] After rescuing other people, Boukreev finally reached Fischer, who was already dead. Boukreev shrouded Fischer’s upper torso and moved his body off the main climbing route.[18] His body remains on the mountain.[19]

Personal life[edit]

In 1981, Fischer married Jeannie Price, who was his student on a NOLS Mountaineering Course in 1974. They moved to Seattle in 1982 where they had two children, Andy and Katie Rose Fischer-Price.[20]


  • A memorial stupa for Fischer was built by the Sherpas in 1996 outside the village of Dughla in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal. In 1997, Ingrid Hunt, the doctor who had accompanied the 1996 Mountain Madness Everest Expedition to Base Camp, returned to place a bronze memorial plaque on the in his honor.[21]
  • The American Alpine Club established the Scott Fischer Memorial Conservation Fund in his memory which helps environmentally proactive expeditions throughout the world.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Birkby 2008, p. 207.
  2. ^ Birkby 2008, p. 237.
  3. ^ Birkby, Robert (February 1, 2008). Mountain Madness: Scott Fischer, Mount Everest, and a Life Lived on High, Citadel. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  4. ^ Birkby 2008, p. 20.
  5. ^ "Africa, Kilimanjaro, Breach Icicle" (PDF). American Alpine Journal 26 (58): 224. 1984. ISSN 0065-6925. OCLC 654858472. Retrieved May 8, 2015. 
  6. ^ Birkby 2008, p. 110.
  7. ^ Viesturs, Ed (1993). "Russian-American K2 Expedition". American Alpine Journal 35 (67): 27. ISSN 0065-6925. OCLC 654858472. Retrieved May 11, 2015. 
  8. ^ Birkby 2008, pp. 230-239.
  9. ^ Potterfield, Peter (1996). In the Zone: Epic Survival Stories from the Mountaineering World. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers. pp. 137–158. ISBN 9781594853579. OCLC 47012008. 
  10. ^ Birkby 2008, p. 260.
  11. ^ "An AIDS Summit - HIV/AIDS, Real People Stories". 40 (4). July 26, 1993. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  12. ^ Goryl, Steve. "Sagarmatha Environmental Expedition". Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ Birkby 2008, p. 275.
  14. ^ "David Brower Conservation Award". Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  15. ^ Birkby & 2008 289.
  16. ^ "Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa's response to Krakauer's article". Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  17. ^ Birkby 2008, pp. 304-313.
  18. ^ Boukreev & DeWalt 1997, p. 204.
  19. ^ Breashears, David. "Epilogue". High Exposure.  "Except for Scott's body, still wrapped with a pack and rope the way Anatoli had left him, the summit slopes were mercifully free of the tragedy."
  20. ^ Birkby 2008, pp. 44, 102.
  21. ^ Boukreev & DeWalt 1997, p. 253.
  22. ^ "American Alpine Club". Retrieved May 21, 2015. 
  23. ^ Kit, Borys; Ford, Rebecca (July 17, 2013). "Universal in Talks for 'Everest' With Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal - Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved May 21, 2015. 

External sources[edit]