IntroductionThe Mount Everest Case Study focuses on two mountaineering companies, Mountain Madness and Adventure Consultants and the tragedy, which befell them on May 10 1996 leading to the death of five climbers while trying to reach the final summit of Mount Everest. Two of the five victims were Scott Fischer and Rob Hall, leaders of the two companies. Rob Hall was the leader of the adventure consultants whereas Scott Fischer was the leader of Mountain Madness. The Mount Everest climbers certainly were prepared for the moderate weather variations. Their equipment and clothing were designed for the environmental conditions in which they were climbing to a point.
The sudden storm as well as the accompanying wind and snow were too much for the climbers and overwhelmed the capacity of their equipment to assist them with their situation. The weather has become horrific: wind chill registered 100 degrees Fahrenheit below zero and white out conditions where the snow blew very thickly, that it was impossible to see (Roberto & Carioggia, 2003, p. 13). Other than the human errors made, numerous interlinked failures occurred within the human, natural and technological systems in the expedition.
The complexity of all these systems made failure inevitable. The three cognitive biases-the overconfidence bias, the sunk cost effect, and the recency effect played a specific important part in the tragedy. Case Study QuestionsQuestion 1Numerous factors led to the tragedy including the weather, different ability of the climbers as well as sickness. One of the most apparent causes of the loss of lives was actions undertaken by the company leadership. Neither Fisher nor Hall enforced or established a turnaround time for the team leaders attempting to reach the summit.
Both the leaders failed to turn their team around at 2pm although it was common practice. Before the tragic expedition, the two often spoke about the importance of setting a preset turnaround time to circumvent dangerous incidences. Fischer has a Two-O’clock Rule, which stated that if the team was not on the summit by two then it was time to turn around because darkness was nobody’s ally. Hall also lectured climbers on significance of setting a preset turnaround time on the summit day (Roberto & Carioggia, 2003, p. 8).
The climbers and the other guides did not also demand or suggest that the teams turn around at 2pm. The members of the two teams, including both expedition leaders made a mistake, which groups in most situations make when they face sunk costs such as energy, time, as well as money spent: they persisted on to the summit past the predetermined turnaround time for allowing a safe descent. There was an increase of commitment of the leaders and climbers to a losing cause as they both decided to push on with poor choices as opposed to abandoning their plan to reach the summit as they already has considerable resources invested.
Both Mountain Madness and Adventure Consultants faced was a failure in leadership as well as team dynamics considering the high stakes environment in which the team operated. Hall and Fisher were skilled high-altitude climbers who were overconfident yet they perished during the ascent to the summit of Everest because of poor leadership decisions. The link between leadership, group dynamics, and decision-making is quite apparent in the Everest case study.
Natural forces also led to the loss of the lives- the climbers had assumed that they would enjoy a remarkably good weather because in recent years this had been the case. This led the climbers to underestimate the chance of dangerous storms.