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Sep 09, 2010
Best Stories from ForbesLife 20th Anniverary: Melee On Everest - Forbes

I stood in the sharp sunlight near my tent at Nepal's Everest Base Camp, sipping a mug of tea and scanning the route I was to take for my summit push the next day. After almost two months of acclimating on Mount Everest and filming for the Discovery Channel I was eager to take a crack at the top. Half a world away my editors in Discovery's headquarters in Bethesda had forwarded my message about the neighboring environmental expedition's claims to also represent Discovery to other departments, who in turn forwarded it to their colleagues. Indeed, the expedition was not being sponsored by Discovery. But the email was forwarded and reforwarded until it reached…the expedition next door.

My momentary bliss state on the mountain took a heat-seeking missile as my own Scottish expedition guide suddenly sprang from the environmental expedition's tent and sucker punched me. He was on top of me faster than an avalanche, maniacally hitting me until two Sherpas rushed up and pulled him off.

Then things got scary.

Waiting for a helicopter out over the next few days I found myself guarded by Sherpas and hiding out from a furious posse of American "environmentalists." Avalanche, asphyxiation and exposure are hard enough to endure on the craggy flanks of Mount Everest. But I'll bet I'm the first climber to face disaster from a leaked interoffice email.

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