Rob Hall was born January 14, 1961 in Christchurch, New Zealand. He met Jan Arnold at Mt. Everest in 1990.
That same year, he and his climbing partner, Gary Ball, climbed the Seven Summits (the highest peak on every continent) in 7 months. Rob and Jan’s first date was climbing the highest peak in North America, Denali AKA Mt. McKinley.
The couple married in 1992 and summited Mt. Everest together in 1993. Jan had originally intended to climb it again with Rob in 1996, but she discovered that she was pregnant.
Rob and Gary opened Adventure Consultants in 1992. Clients paid them $65,000 to lead them safely to the top of Mt. Everest. In the first 3 years that he ran the company, Rob and 39 people summited Everest.
In 1996, 8 clients hired Rob and 2 guides that worked for him, Mike Groom and Andy Harris. One of the clients was Jon Krakauer, a journalist, who would go on to write the novel Into Thin Air about his journey up the mountain.
Rob’s 11 person team left Camp IV just after midnight on May 10 headed for the summit. Another group called Mountain Madness, owned by Scott Fischer, set out with them.
Both groups, and several other climbers, were held up at the Hillary Step (approximately 8,800 meters or just under 29,000 feet up) because ropes had not been placed to aid the climbers. It took an hour to secure the lines.
It is imperative that climbers reach the summit by 2pm in order to make it back down to Camp IV before dark. Rob, despite the dangers, stayed with a client named Doug Hansen who was still attempting to summit at 3pm.
Rob had attempted to get Doug to the top of Mt. Everest the year before, but he hadn’t made it due to exhaustion. Rob offered Doug a discount to come back for the 1996 climbing season and try again. Rob was determined to get Doug to the top and this may have clouded his judgement.
Sherpas coming from the summit saw Doug at 3pm and told him to turn around. Doug refused, even though he was clearly, again, exhausted and struggling to continue on. Rob agreed to stay with Doug and sent the Sherpas to help others on the mountain.
The men made it to the summit (it was Rob’s 5th summit) and turned around, but at 5pm, a blizzard hit. Rob called for help. He told those at Camp IV that Doug was unconscious. Andy packed water and supplemental oxygen and headed out to help the men.
At approximately 4:45 the next morning, Rob called Camp IV again. The situation had gotten worse. Andy had delivered the water and oxygen, but Rob didn’t know where he was now. Doug had died during the night and Rob’s oxygen mask was covered in ice. His fingers and toes were frostbitten and he was moving very slowly.
Ed Viesturs was a friend of Rob’s that was a part of an IMAX film crew making a documentary about the mountain. While most of the groups planned to summit on May 10, Ed’s group intended to reach the top the day before so that they could film without a crowd.
On May 8, the day before they were to summit, the film crew began to get concerned about the weather and decided to head back to Camp II rather than head up to Camp IV and the top.
Ed ran into Rob and Scott on the way down. The men agreed to meet up when they all reached base camp again. Rob and Scott would never make it off the mountain.
The members of Rob’s group that made it through the blizzard set up at Camp II and could hear his calls on the radio.
Ed and others at Camp II got on the the radio and urged Rob to come down. They reminded him that he needed to make it home to see the birth of his baby.
The evening of May 12, Rob radioed Base Camp and asked them to call his wife. He told her not to worry about him, that he loved her and to sleep well. She, undoubtedly, knew that this was the last time she would ever speak to him, but Jan told Rob that she knew he would be rescued and to stay positive.
When the weather finally permitted, the group at Camp II headed up the mountain to try to save Rob.
His body was located by the group from IMAX on May 23.
Rob and Jan’s daughter was born 2 months after his death.
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at