On May 15, 2011 Brian Dickinson found himself climbing alone above the death zone when his Sherpa, Pasang Temba, fell ill and had to descend to the South Col. Due to a tight weather window Pasang and Brian were the only 2 climbers attempting the summit, meaning there was nobody above 26,000’ from the south (Nepal) or north (Tibet). When Pasang turned back Brian was faced with a decision to continue or retreat, weighing out the options of weather, physical conditions, effects of altitude and Pasangs ability to get down alone. With all options checking positive Dickinson headed toward the summit. A few hours later Brian made a radio call solo from the summit of the highest point in the world and took a few self-portraits before starting his descent. That’s when things turned horribly wrong.
With a goggle malfunction and the sun now brightly beating off of the ice, Brian’s eyes became severely snow blind. He was alone at 29,035’, blind and had to get down unassisted. Hand over hand he made his way down the fixed lines running into several challenges such as falling down the south rock step, riding an avalanche and running out of oxygen. After 30 hours of continual climbing (7 without vision) and running out of oxygen Brian dropped to his knees and prayed. At that very moment he was lifted to his feet with unexplained energy. He tried connecting a spare oxygen tank, which had previously failed to function, and received a positive flow of air. Without hesitation Brian rappelled over a mile down to the South Col. Hallucinating he stumbled his way across the quarter mile ice field, where Pasang embraced him. Brian still had to get down from the death zone, down the Lhotse Face ice wall and across the ladders and seracs in the Khumbu Ice Fall. But he survived one of the most unimaginable situations anyone could possible face. With his determined will to survive and a miracle from God, he lived to tell the story.