After he was seen being blown away by gale-force winds in Mount Everest's "Death Zone," Beck Weathers' wife was notified that her husband was dead. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
On May 11, 1996, Beck Weathers died on Mount Everest. At least, that’s what other climbers told his wife. The truth was even more incredible.
Weathers set out to conquer Earth’s highest summit alongside a team of eight other climbers. Like each of them, he had his own reasons for wanting to scale the mountain. Long plagued by depression, Weathers had followed his love of climbing in hopes of banishing what he called the “the black dog” from his life.
But he wasn’t prepared for what would happen once he reached the slopes of Everest. No one was. Over a harrowing period of 18 hours, Everest would do its best to devour Weathers and his fellow climbers.
As raging storms picked off much of his team, including its leader, one by one, Weathers began to grow increasingly delirious due to exhaustion, exposure, and altitude sickness. At one point, he threw up his hands and screamed, “I’ve got it all figured out,” before falling into a snowbank and to his death — or so his team thought.
As rescue missions struggled up the face of Mount Everest to save the others, Weathers lay in the snow, sinking deeper into a hypothermic coma. Not one but two rescuers took a look at Weathers and decided that he was too far gone to be saved.
But after being left for dead — twice — something incredible happened. Weathers woke up. Black frostbite covered his face and body like scales, yet he somehow found the strength to rise out of the snowbank, and he eventually made it back down the mountain and into camp.
To his fellow hikers, it was like seeing a ghost. “This man had no face,” one of them recalled. “It was completely black, solid black like he had a crust over him.”
Weathers recalls little about his night at camp except that he heard people talking about “the dead guy in the tent” and wondered who they meant. Somehow, to the surprise of everyone, he survived to see morning.
He was far from out of the woods, however. Weathers had to navigate down the steep descent so that a helicopter could execute a risky rescue. Once again, he beat the odds and was safely flown away from Mount Everest.
In the end, Weathers lost his right arm at the elbow, the fingers of his left hand, chunks of his feet, and his nose — which doctors were able to partially regrow using a skin graft from his ear. Despite everything, he later admitted, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Learn more about the incredible story of Beck Weathers and his harrowing survival story on Mount Everest.