Dateline   |  September 06, 2013

Into the Death Zone, Part 6

As high-altitude helicopters race up the mountain to rescue stranded and injured climbers, Kedrowski and Leduc decide the battle isn’t over just yet.

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

>> narrator: it was the morning of may 20th , and the canadian climber shriya shah had not returned to camp four with the rest of her party. there were many other climbers in shriya 's predictment that day. down in base camp , grayson schaafer said it was a war zone .

>> all these climbers were basically doing laps.

>> choppers were soaring up the mountain climbing sick climbers down to the emergency room .

>> narrator: at base camp , everyone was most worried about the climbers who hadn't been rescued.

>> they know that a number of climbers still hadn't checked in, so they know something terrible has happened but they don't know the full extent of it.

>> narrator: the next day, may 21st , jon kedrowski and sandra leduc both limped back to base camp , realizing that many climbers weren't going to come home. they were deflated that everest had defeated them.

>> there were huge signs of congratulations. that hurt that we hadn't summited.

>> narrator: just as he was packing up to go home, kedrowski says a sherpa on his team, one of the most experienced on the mountain came to his tenlt with an idea.

>> he said i want to go back up because i have never been turned away from an everest summit before. it would be like if lebron james came and asked you to play horse, would you say no? i was like sure, i'm going to do it.

>> narrator: it seems as if sandra leduc was also having a change of heart .

>> it seemed so very wrong. i turned to my team leader and said, i think i want to go back up.

>> narrator: so despite almost dying on the mountain leduc and her team decided to give it another try. so the next morning they attempted it again. they tried to get through the ice fall before the sun made it even more dangerous.

>> we need to be up and out of here by like 9:00 or 10:00 and we'll be fine.

>> narrator: they kept climbing all day, past camp one, sleeping at camp two, sleeping at camp three and arriving at camp four on the evening of may 24th . they had climbed 4 1/2 vertical miles in little more than a day.

>> it's about 4:00 a.m . and the weather is good. there's everest and the summit.

>> narrator: as darkness fell that evening, kedrowski and his sherpa steeled themselves for one last all or nothing push for the summit.

>> it's 1:00 a.m . here, there's light winds. we're going to head out for everest . we're going to leave in a few minutes. i can't wait to be up there.

>> narrator: jon kedrowski and his sherpa, setting their own pace with no crowds to slow them down sped toward the summit. in less than eight hours, kedrowski would realize his boyhood dream.

>> i summited at 3:30 in the morning.

>> so no picture?

>> i couldn't take a picture. but i had video.

>> 8850 meters.

>> narrator: the amazing speed with which he and his sherpa summited mt. everest left them with plenty of time to see a spectacular sunrise.

>> this is it, the top of the world .

>> narrator: at about 6:00 a.m ., sandra leduc and the others reached the summit too.

>> i got really emotional. this is the moment i had been dreaming of for 12 years.

>> i'm tired but i'm hanging in there.

>> narrator: they were still feeling the elation of having summited mt. everest as they left. but just a few hundred yards down the mountain, they came upon a body still clipped to the rope line. red suit , yellow boots, it was shriya shah.

>> when i went up and i saw the canadian flag , i felt sick, and when i came down, then i wanted to cry.

>> we both passed her and stopped for a moment and paid our respects and said, the mountain makes the decisions and then i continued on.

>> narrator: it turns out that shriya did not die alone. back on the night of may 19 , not long after her sherpas left her. another sherpa passed by on his way up. he says shriya was still alive, but barely. he says he gave her a sip of oxygen from his tank and was with her when she took her final breath. then he took this picture to document the location of her body. shriya shah was one of six people who died on mt. everest that day. dozens more had to be rescued by helicopter. in all in 2012 , six climbers died. the deadliest season of all on mt. everest . but ironically it was one of the most profitable years for the governments who charge fee force the climb. shriya 's husband, bruce klorfine made arrangements to have his wife's body brought down from the summit.

>> narrator: shriya shah was cremated in her birthplace of kathmandu. according to tradition, her husband lit the funeral fire. sandra leduc said shriya shah's story should be a warning.

>> unfortunately, there are a certain number of people who do try every year who don't have the experience. but that's partly because of the public perception that it's just a walk.

>> narrator: the fact remains, mt. everest is not only the world's highest mountain , but also the most lethal. that danger is one big reason why experienced climbers and thrillseekers alive will be hoping to cheat death and live to tell the tale.

>> every year there will be a slow brood letting of people who shouldn't be there