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Everest Mount 1996 Case Study

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Updated: Dec 6th, 2019


Everest has attracted many people throughout decades. Successful expeditions to the summit encouraged many people to try their strength. However, many people lost their lives in such attempts. For instance, the expeditions led by Rob Hall and Scott Fischer in 1996 illustrate dangers associated with ascent of Everest. On May, 10 five people, including Hall and Fischer, lost their lives during this ascent (Roberto & Carioggia 2003).

Many people strived to find out what exactly led to such dramatic outcomes. Some argue that Fischer and Hall turned out to be bad leaders as they made far too many mistakes. However, others claim that there can be no lawless ascents of Everest. Admittedly, there can be no single answer to this question though it is inappropriate to blame Hall and Fischer as they were not totally responsible for the tragedy that took place.

Peculiarities of the mount

Everest and its summit became known to the western world in the beginning of the twentieth century. Since then many people have tried to reach its summit. By 1980s more than hundred climbers reached the summit (Roberto & Carioggia 2003). However, a lot more people died during their attempts. Notably, many experienced and highly skilled climbers lost their lives. Admittedly, one of the major reasons why people failed to reach the summit was very changeable weather.

Nonetheless, it is necessary to note that though weather conditions are crucial, people are also responsible for tragedies that often take place there. Admittedly, the spread of touristic tours to the summit increases cases of deaths in Everest. The expeditions of Hall and Fischer prove that even those who reached the summit of Everest cannot guarantee safety of such tourists.

Evaluation of the two leaders’ actions

In the first place, it is important to note that Hall and Fischer were experienced climbers. Apparently, they could not make any mistakes. However, it is possible to point out some erroneous actions which, in combination with extreme weather conditions, led to the tragedy. In the first place, they knew challenges that an individual could experience during the ascent. More so, they took the responsibility to guide their tourists to the summit.

Apart from this, Hall and Fischer overestimated their abilities during the ascent as well. For instance, even though Hall himself stressed the necessity to stick to the schedule, he let his people waste a lot of time and he did not make those who were too slow to descend when necessary. Hall overestimated his abilities as he decided that he would manage to guide everyone safely.

As far as Fischer is concerned, he also overestimated his physical abilities. Thus, he ignored the necessity to get ready for the ascent and turned out to be unprepared for such physical loads. Finally, the lack of communication between the tourists and the instructors also played negative role.

The lessons to be learnt

It goes without saying that the expeditions led by Hall and Fischer can be regarded as important lessons for leaders in different fields of management, leadership and decision making. In the first place, leaders should always remember that they are responsible for well-being of people they are in charge of. Thus, leaders should always remember that they are just like Hall and Fischer, i.e. they also need to guide members of their groups trying to avoid any possible dangers.

Leaders should always associate themselves with the climbers who were responsible for their tourists’ lives. Thus, leaders should think of all challenges their subordinates can face. The leader should foresee difficulties to make his/her subordinates ready for upcoming challenges.

Apart from responsibility, leaders should estimate their own abilities properly. Thus, Hall and Fischer overestimated their abilities and this led to the tragedy. Therefore, successful and responsible leaders should be critical. In the first place, they should make sure they know exactly what can be expected from them. They should also be sure they can meet their groups’ expectations.

For instance, the leader should take into account all possible scenarios and know how to deal with this or that issue. At that, the leader should make sure he/she can cope with all possible issues to occur. Therefore, if the leader has any doubts concerning his/her abilities, it is important to think of other ways to deal with a problem.

Perhaps, the leader should delegate some of his/her responsibilities. Admittedly, it is important to understand which duties can be delegated, and which should be handled by the leader only.

Besides, the leader should always have a precise plan which will help to complete certain tasks. More so, the leader should never forget about the plan. The present case study perfectly illustrates the importance of sticking to the plan.

Thus, the two climbers violated their own rules and this also negatively affected the outcomes of the ascent. Of course, the leader should be really precise especially when it comes to a plan implementation. Therefore, checklists and timelines can help to stick to the initial plan.

Of course, the plan should also be flexible. Nonetheless, it is inappropriate to change central points in the plan as this can lead to failure. The leader should remember this when making his/her subordinates follow the plan.

Finally, the leader should be ready to take hard decisions. The case study shows that some of Hall’s and Fischer’s decisions were arguable. Something could have been delegated while sometimes the climbers should have been stricter.

The leader should be ready to take on responsibility to make decisions which can seem controversial if the leader knows perfectly well that this decision will make the project successful. Thus, the leader should weigh each decision and he/she should prioritize activities, projects, etc.

Finally, the leaders should also remember about the importance of proper communication between their subordinates. The lack of communication in the case with the expedition played a very tragic role. Likewise, the lack of communication between the members of the group can lead to the project’s failure.

Therefore, the leader should make sure there is proper communication between the members of the group. It is one of the leader’s responsibilities to establish appropriate communicative channels. Thus, the leader as well as members of the group will be able to trace all possible problems (deviations from plan, changing of settings, etc.) in time which will enable the group to solve all the issues.


To sum up, the present study dwells upon one of the most tragic ascents of Everest. The case study focuses on Hall’s and Fischer’s actions during the ascent. It is possible to state that the present case study can be a perfect guidance for leaders in such fields as management, leadership and decision making.

Leaders in many spheres of life can benefit from learning valuable lessons. Thus, the case study reveals the importance of the leader’s precision. Obviously, leaders should be responsible and they should critically estimate their own abilities to guide people in this or that situation.

Reference List

Roberto, MA & Carioggia, GM 2003, Mount Everest – 1996′, Harvard Business School, no. 9-303-061, pp. 1-22.

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