Dateline   |  September 06, 2013

Into The Death Zone, Part 1

Every spring, throngs of people flock to Mount Everest to attempt to summit mountaineering’s most prestigious – and dangerous – peak. In Spring 2012, Sandra Leduc, Jon Kedrowski and Shriya Shah—three climbers with lifelong dreams of conquering Everest—arrived, ready to document their journey into the “Death Zone.” But they would soon face treacherous weather, and dangerous crowds.Journalist Michael Kodas, who has been to Everest himself, talks about the allure – and financial reality – of climbing Mount Everest.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> irresistible.

>> it's as close as you can get to being in outer space .

>> narrator: it dares climbers to risk everything for the glory of standing at the highest point on earth. over the years, hundreds of them haven't made it back.

>> the thing about dying on everest is not a painful gruesome death, it's just about giving up and floating off.

>> narrator: yet that doesn't stop the throngs from coming every spring.

>> it's like lining up to go to a rock concert , except they're all climbing at 25,000 feet, inches away from death.

>> narrator: so it is that one day last year, the people you're about to meet crossed paths at the summit of everest . they would all make choices that would make the difference between life and death .

>> we were not really climbing a mountain but seeing one horrible moment after another.

>> narrator: their cameras captured most of it.

>> i'm going to show everybody at home how deep that thing is. pretty deep.

>> narrator: at some point everyone on this expedition would tempt fate.

>> here we are at camp 4 , death zone .

>> narrator: it would be a harrowing tale to tell the folks back home, but only for the ones lucky enough to live to tell about it. john krazowski was there.

>> at what point did you make the decision to go to everest ?

>> i said what is the tallest mountain on earth and when i learned about it, i said i'm going to climb mt. everest someday.

>> narrator: he's been skiing all his life. he mastered all the peaks in colorado, 58 of them in just 60 days. he also climbed in north and south america. but he always set his mind to everest .

>> i think i set everest in my mind.

>> narrator: so early in 2012 , kowzowski would meet the team with whom he would finally climb mt. everest . one of them stood out, a 34-year-old canadian climber, sarah duke. this was the first time she would attempt the dangers of climbing the summit. 12 years earlier, she had hiked to the base of the mountain which had spiked her dream.

>> i saw at the base of the mountain, this is something people actually do. sandra la duke is actually a lawyer and diplomat. to train for everest , she had climbed the highest peaks on four different continents and more.

>> i started adding on levels of difficulty. winter camping, taking lessons in ice climbing , taking lessons on glacier travel.

>> th

>> narrator: they arrived at base camp on the summit of their dreams.

>> we're ready to climb up it.

>> narrator: one day they were walking with a friend when they saw this poster of a canadian climber.

>> they were both put off by it because they were both climbers and they're like who is this climber?

>> narrator: it was sharita shaw. she was born in nepal. she said she had secretly dreamed about climbing the world's tallest peak all her life.

>> it was something i could see myself doing.

>> narrator: less than a year for the 2012 climbing season, skr sharita decided that day had finally come. she gave her husband the news.

>> she said i'm going to climb mt. everest . by the time she told me about her plan, there was nothing i could do to talk her out of it. and believe me, i tried.

>> i wanted to give the message, follow your dream. you have one life, live your life .

>> narrator: sharita had no previous mountaineering experience. she hiked on the subtle hills near toronto. she lugged a heavy backpack up the 50 flights to her toronto apartment. she would need an outfit to provide her with sherpas, food and supplies. she found a local outfitters company. they charged sharita top dollar, more than $40,000, add travel and equipment and sherpa s if she made it to the top. the actual trip would be close to 80,000. but she got her gear and went to base camp in march.

>> we're ready to walk now. we'll be the second spot and we'll be resting for one day there.

>> narrator: by mid-april, sharita had made it to base camp . she was confident she was up to the challenge ahead.

>> we're just below mt. everest .

>> narrator: at the top, the death