Jon Krakauer’s book, Into Thin Air, details the horrific events of a 1996 commercial expedition on Mount Everest. On that fateful trip, a large party of climbers was surprised by a severe storm while descending from the summit. The book tragically chronicles the appalling deaths of five people. At certain points, it can be a tough read. However, it also tells the amazing story of Beck Weathers.
Weathers, a doctor from Dallas, was one of the few climbers that didn’t reach the summit. The extreme altitude caused unexpected problems with an eye condition and he was left blind. Weathers was forced to stop and wait for the others to climb the mountain and then return back before he could be helped down.
While he was waiting, the mountain was bombarded by an intense blizzard. He began to freeze. As the day turned to night, his fight against the cold became futile. The extreme conditions won out and he slowly slipped into a hypothermic coma.
That night, some fellow climbers had a chance to carry Weathers back with them to camp, but they checked his vitals and decided that he was a lost cause. Even later, a group of Sherpas checked on him and made the same determination. He was left for dead twice.
Everyone was wrong about Beck Weathers. Sometime after it was decided that he was dead, Weathers miraculously awoke. He stood up and slogged all the way back to base camp on frozen feet.** His fellow climbers, delirious from nearly dying themselves, thought they were seeing a ghost. He was blind and in a hypothermic coma for several hours, but he survived for twenty-two hours in the worst winter conditions imaginable.
Jason Giambi pulled a Beck Weathers today. An entire fan base had left him for dead and rightfully so. Recently, his performance has been very comparable to a hypothermic coma. After he struck out to end last night’s game, I trashed the decision to use him in the first place and called for his retirement. When I heard he was in the lineup today, I rolled my eyes. But, on a rainy Philadelphia night, Giambi made me feel dumb for giving up on him.
Tonight, the Giambino awoke from a baseball coma. I doubt I’m as shocked as the guys that gave up on Beck Weathers, but I think I’m close.
**Weathers lost his nose and both hands because of frostbite. Today, he’s a motivational speaker.