They looked down upon the world. It was bold, bright and beautiful. Then Steve’s oxygen mask froze and they knew the hardest part of the climb was going to be getting back down.

On May 17th at 7:00 am, 2013 after climbing twelve hours through a storm Steve Whittington and Dawa (Danuru) Sherpa were the first to reach the top of the world. They stood alone looking down on the world, it was clear, it was bright, it was beautiful. They had the mountain to themselves with no one in sight. All the fear and suffering of the night washed away. After taking pictures and hugging each other on the summit Steve started to have problems breathing, His mask was iced to his face and beard and now at the top of the world it completely froze, denying him air.

He ripped his mask off and sucked in the thin air. Dawa pulled out his thermos and poured tea in the intake and outflow valves. The tea was cold and did not clear the valves; they both blew into the mask and dug at the valves exposing bare fingers to the lashing summit winds. The mask could not be cleared. The two of them looked down the summit ridge and in apprehension realized the danger of this climb was really just about to begin…