CNN US News
Weathers

Climber pronounced
dead lives to tell tale
of survival

May 17, 1996
Web posted at: 11 p.m. EDT

DALLAS, Texas (CNN) -- In one week, Seaborn Weathers went from the top of the world to death's door and then, finally, home.

The 49-year-old Texas pathologist was descending the summit of Mount Everest last weekend when he was caught in a fierce blizzard.

Weathers lost his way in the storm, which killed at least eight climbers. Exhausted, he fell asleep in the snow.

"I woke up and I was lying on my back. I was so cold that I felt warm," Weathers said. "I just thought that any second, someone would shake my shoulder and I'd be awake." (417K AIFF sound or 417K WAV sound)

As he lay there, a rescue team found him, pronounced him dead and left him behind.

Climbing

"Finally I did focus enough to get to grips with the idea that if I didn't get up and I didn't get moving and I didn't do something about it that I simply was going to lie back there and go to sleep again and never wake up," he said.

Weathers stumbled for hours on feet frozen numb.

"In the half hour before I staggered into camp, I was over 99 percent certain I was dead," said Weathers, his nose and cheeks badly charred by the extreme cold. (357K AIFF sound or 357K WAV sound)

The highest-altitude helicopter rescue ever lifted Weathers to safety at 19,100 feet. He was flown from Nepal to Germany, then home. His doctor said the damage to his feet and face is not serious.

Hands

"(The doctor) said I'll get a lot less ugly over time," Weathers said. "I take that to be a good sign." (765K AIFF sound or 765K WAV sound)

Weathers may lose the use of one or both of his hands. After ten years of climbing, he said he has gone up his last mountain.

Not all climbers feel that way. As Weathers returned to the warmth and safety of his family, eight teams continued their quest to reach the top of the world.

CNN Correspondent Larry Meagher and Reuters contributed to this report.

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