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Setting Your Objectives

Before experienced climbers make an assault on a mountain peak, they must address countless checklists, both mental and physical. They must allow sufficient time for the climb and ensure that the weather conditions will provide an adequate window of opportunity for the assault on the summit and the retreat down the mountain. The myriad logistics that must be taken care of include food, water, tents, permits, and oxygen. The failure to adequately prepare and provide for these needs could be catastrophic to the climbers and could cost them their lives in extreme circumstances.

In May 1996, nine climbers died on the face of Mt. Everest in the worst climbing accident in the history of the sport. Their deaths were the result of many factors, some physical and some mental. A surprise storm swept in quickly and furiously, but the storm alone was not responsible for the lost lives. Hundreds of climbers were attempting to summit Everest that day, and their numbers created a tremendous bottleneck just below the summit at a mark called the Hillary Step, some 28,750 feet above sea level but ironically only hundreds of feet from Everest's summit.


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