Five years after he famously Facebooked his way to rescue from a Himalayan crevasse, scientist and climber John All is back on Mount Everest, looking for answers about how global warming is affecting the highest peaks on earth.
One spring morning in 2014, before breakfast or even coffee, John All, 49, a Mount Everest climber and then a professor at Western Kentucky University, was walking near his tent on a remote Himalayan peak in Nepal called Himlung when he broke through a thin layer of snow and clattered 70 feet down a crevasse. He would have kept falling, almost certainly to his death, were it not for a small ice shelf spanning the fissure, upon which he miraculously, if painfully, landed.
Stunned and injured—it would turn out he’d broken 15 bones, dislocated his shoulder, and was bleeding internally—All gathered himself in the icy crypt and then, like any good scientist, began to document the ordeal. He thought of his teammates on the mountain, his students back at school, his mother at home in Georgia. They would want to know what had happened to him should he not make it, which seemed likely.
The trip had been fraught since the beginning. The five-member team’s initial expedition to Everest had come to an abrupt end when a massive avalanche struck the Khumbu Icefall and Base Camp, killing 16 Sherpas, including one from All’s team. After much deliberation, they rerouted to Himlung, about 160 miles west of Everest. But his teammates were struggling with altitude and fatigue and had descended lower, leaving All by himself at Camp II, on a small snowfield at nearly 20,000 feet.