The last time Aspen’s Neal Beidleman tried to climb Mt. Everest, the journey took a tragic turn. Eight climbers from his group died during a brutal storm on the trek, a story captured in Jon Krakauer’s best-selling Into Thin Air. Beidleman, recognized as one of the heroes from that climb, recently spoke with the New York Times before setting out once again to summit the world’s tallest mountain.
Beidleman was working as a guide for Scott Fischer during the fateful 1996 expedition, and Fischer’s body remains on the mountain: “I will go and try to seek out where he rests now and pay him my respects. I don’t know how that’s going to be.” Beidleman says his family wasn’t initially keen on him returning to the location of such a traumatic experience, but he doesn’t consider the journey extraordinarily dangerous if planned thoughtfully: “Hopefully, there’s a closing chapter for me to what happened in ’96, because in returning, the story doesn’t have to be about the past.”