Sandy Hill Pittman, Everest’s Socialite Climber that survived the 1996 Everest disaster
Sandy Hill, Everest

Sandra Hill, formerly known as Sandra Hill Pittman or simply as Sandy Hill, is a multifaceted individual with accomplishments ranging from socialite and author to mountaineer and former fashion editor.

Socialite and mountaineer Sandy Hill, who almost died in the storm that killed eight other climbers that inspired the movie, Everest, was married to MTV founder Bob Pittman at the time, climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains with her energy, beauty, and love of the media attention. But did she go too far?

She gained significant attention after surviving the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, during which she became the 34th woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest and the second American woman to conquer the Seven Summits.

  • Survivor of 1996 Mount Everest Disaster: Sandy Hill was one of the survivors of the infamous 1996 Mount Everest disaster, which claimed the lives of several climbers.
  • Part of Mountain Madness Expedition: She was part of the Mountain Madness expedition led by Scott Fischer during her third attempt to climb Mount Everest.
  • Agreement with NBC Interactive Media: Hill made an agreement with NBC Interactive Media to stream journalistic dispatches from Base Camp to schoolchildren in the United States during the expedition.
  • Summit Attempt: On May 10, 1996, Hill successfully summited Mount Everest at approximately 2:30 pm and exchanged high fives with fellow climbers before descending Hillary Step.
  • Challenges During Descent: During the descent, Hill encountered various challenges, including getting her crampons tangled in ropes and needing medical assistance from her teammates.
  • Rescue Efforts: After the storm subsided, rescue efforts were initiated, led by guides and fellow climbers, to help those in distress and bring them to safety.
  • Eight People Died: Tragically, eight people lost their lives that night, and the disaster garnered significant media attention and coverage.
  • Controversies and Media Response: Hill faced controversies and media scrutiny following the disaster, including negative portrayals and blame from various sources.
  • Defense of Boukreev: Hill defended Anatoli Boukreev’s decisions on Everest and criticized sensationalist media coverage of the event.
  • Subsequent Media Portrayals: Hill’s experiences on Everest were portrayed in various media, including TV movies and documentaries, shedding light on her extraordinary journey and resilience.

Personal Life:

Sandy Hill’s upbringing in Los Gatos, California, was far from ordinary. Her father’s successful business of renting portable toilets to construction sites provided her with a unique childhood. After graduating from UCLA, she ventured to New York, where she began her career in the fashion industry. From working as a buyer for Bonwit Teller to holding editorial positions at Mademoiselle and Brides magazine, Hill’s journey was marked by success and determination. Her personal life saw several marriages, including one to MTV co-founder Robert Pittman, and later, commodities trader Thomas Dittmer.

Mountaineering Achievements:

Hill’s passion for mountaineering started at a young age, with her first summit at just 13 years old. In 1992, she embarked on a quest to become the first American woman to scale the Seven Summits, achieving remarkable success with summits including Aconcagua, Denali, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Her journey culminated in reaching the summit of Mount Everest in 1996, making her the second American woman to conquer the Seven Summits.

  • Early Mountaineering: Sandy Hill began her mountaineering journey as a teenager, achieving her first summit at the age of 13 on Disappointment Peak in the Teton Range.
  • Quest for Seven Summits: In 1992, she embarked on a quest to become the first American woman to scale the Seven Summits, which are the highest peaks on each continent.
  • Summit Achievements: Hill successfully summited several peaks as part of her Seven Summits challenge, including Aconcagua (1992), Denali (1992), Vinson Massif (1993), Mount Elbrus (1993), Mount Kilimanjaro (1993), Mount Kosciuszko (1994), and Puncak Jaya (1995).
  • Multiple Attempts on Everest: Hill made two unsuccessful attempts to climb Mount Everest before her successful ascent in 1996.
  • 1993 Attempt: In 1993, she reached an altitude of 23,500 feet (7,200 m) on a guided expedition via the traditional South Col route.
  • 1994 Attempt: The following year, Hill attempted to climb the difficult Kangshung Face of Everest with corporate sponsorship but was forced to turn back due to avalanche danger above 25,000 feet.
  • Ceremonial Object: During her 1993 expedition, Hill carried a custom-made cross necklace by jeweler Barry Kieselstein-Cord with the intention to bury it on the summit, but this ceremony did not occur.


Human beings were not created to live in thin air. People who stay up too high for too long will finally pass out from the altitude. This is why hikers call all peaks above 26,000 feet “the Death Zone.” At 29,028 feet, Mount Everest is the most dangerous. So, when Pittman hit the legendary top of Sandy Hill around 2:30 p.m. She didn’t waste any time celebrating on May 10, even though it was something she had been working for a long time to do.

Pittman, who is 41 years old, had more at stake than the other hikers who paid about $65,000 to be at the top of the world. Years before, she was bored with her life as the socialite wife of MTV creator Bob Pittman (who is thought to be worth more than $40 million). So, she turned her childhood love of climbing and adventure into a public way to show off her energy and drive. Mountain trekking in the Himalayas, horseback riding across Kenya, and kayaking in the Arctic Circle were all hobbies that turned into a passion, a mission, and a sense of who they are. Pittman had already made a name for herself as a bold adventurer, a kind of modern-day Amelia Earhart, long before she left New York for Nepal on March 21. In her own words, she had left “the escalator at Bergdorf’s” for more foreign lands while wearing La Perla underwear. Nicole Griscom, one of her friends, says, “She’s very inspiring because she finds a way to live life to the fullest.” Not every person agrees. One friend shrugs and says, “She’s a show-off.” “She would call everyone she knew to let them know she was going kayaking in the East River.” She wanted to be written about in the columns, so that’s what she did. That girl from California is pretty, but she’s very bold.

Pittman meant to become only the third woman in history to climb all seven of the world’s highest mountains, or “Top Seven.” Everest was the last mountain on her big plan. She was already working on a book called Summits of My Soul, and this experience would give it a dramatic ending. It would also bring her one step closer to her dream of becoming the Martha Stewart of mountaineering: a famous athlete with media ties. Pittman was a dedicated promoter who took on the attention with the same zeal she used for her tough workouts, which included running up the 26 flights to her Central Park West apartment eight times a day. It took her 208 flights. Before the trip, she wore climbing gear for Vogue and made plans with NBC for her electronic diary to be sent from Everest via satellite phone and put on the Internet. Billy Norwich, a social columnist, threw her a farewell party at Nell’s, and fans like André Balazs, who owns the Chateau Marmont hotel, Bianca Jagger, and Calvin Klein were there. Pittman came in full climbing gear, with boots and an ice ax. A determined mountain climber named Sandy was shown on postcards with her Web address and a picture of herself hanging off a rock. People could see her in a snowsuit. “All the fun, none of the risk,” they said. “Tie online with Sandy Hill Pittman.”

She put herself under a lot of stress to do well on this, her third try at climbing Everest. She lost her 16-year marriage and hundreds of thousands of dollars because of her obsession. In October, her husband moved out and is now seeing Veronique Choa, who is married to David Breashears but is no longer seeing him. David is a hiker and Sandy Pittman tried to climb the Kangshung Face of Everest with him in 1994. Pittman thought about her marriage and whether she should leave her 12-year-old son Bo for the two-and-a-half-month Everest trip while she was getting a divorce for a few months. But at the last minute, she jumped at the chance to join a trip that had a spot open. After giving her son to her mother to watch, she set out again to climb the mountain.

Scott Fischer, a 40-year-old professional guide who helped start the Seattle-based hiking company Mountain Madness, put together Pittman’s group. Fischer would lead eight clients (two turned back) up the Southeast Route, which he jokedly called “the yellow brick road” because it is so popular with rich amateurs who don’t care that 142 people have died on it in the 600 people who have reached the top.

Before trying to reach the top, Fischer’s team spent a month at Base Camp, a small tent city at 17,600 feet. From there, they hiked to higher levels to work out their lungs and pick up more than two tons of trash that hikers leave behind. According to Fischer’s reports, Pittman did well and did her part for the team. Mountain Madness called her a “competent climber.” In fact, she had a lot more experience than some of the people on other trips.

The climb was planned for May 10, which was the anniversary of the last record attempt, when 37 climbers hit the top. About twenty mountain climbers from Fischer’s team, a New Zealand group, and a Taiwanese group got together the night before the climb. The moon was very big, and it was a clear night. When Sandy Pittman finally made it to the world’s highest point of view the next afternoon, she was overjoyed and gave high fives to the other hikers who were already there. Neal Beidleman, who was helping to guide the Fischer team, raised his arms in victory when he saw her. No one could really talk because the gas masks were so big. Looking down from six miles up, Pittman later said she could “actually see the curve of the earth.”

However, getting to the top is only half the trip; most accidents happen on the way down. There were people on another team who said Pittman had to be short-roped by a Sherpa on the way up. She was also the last client in her group to reach the top, with Fischer following as the back guide. There wasn’t enough time for her to do anything else. No one can remember if she got a chance to bury the cross necklace that jeweler Barry Kieselstein-Cord made just for her.

It was lucky she got down quickly because the four people who came after her, who were only 15 minutes behind her, ran into problems. A Taiwanese climber named Makalu Gau was found half frozen the next day. He was saved by one of the greatest helicopter rescues ever. Rob Hall, the head of the New Zealand expedition, who stopped to help his client Doug Hansen, would not be so lucky.

Pittman kept getting very tired on the way down. A skilled climber named Charlotte Fox kept an eye out for her. She had brought her boyfriend, Snow-mass Ski Patrol member Tim Madsen, with her. “I focused on trying to help her,” Fox, who had met Pittman on an earlier trip, says. A very good climber from Aspen called Neal Beidleman helped Pittman down the Hillary Step, which is a 40-foot crack in the ice named for Sir Edmund Hillary. He and his Sherpa were the first people to reach the top of Everest in 1953. “Sandy’s crampons got caught in the ropes,” he remembers. “I was scared. She tripped and put her ice ax in the wrong hand.

On the way to the South Summit, he stopped to check on the other people. Twenty minutes later, he went downstairs and saw Fox standing over her friend with a hypodermic needle in her hand. As Fox gave Pittman a shot of dexamethasone, she was lying on her stomach. Fox had taken off the back corner of Pittman’s suit and stabbed her in the buttocks through her other clothes. The drug is an anti-inflammatory that can have effects similar to amphetamines. It is usually only given as a last option. Pittman had asked for it, though. She was completely worn out.

Cheeked over to Lene Gammelgaard, a Danish climber, and asked her to trade oxygen with Pittman, whose bottle was getting low. He raised her oxygen flow rate, which makes her feel like she has a rush of energy. His words, “It was a judgment call, not preferential treatment,” make it clear that he had to get her going. It was Sandy who was in the most trouble at that point.

Beidleman told Pittman, “You’ve got to get the fuck down or you’re going to die!” before she could rest.They were still three hours’ walk from Camp 4, which was on a small saddle called the South Col. Snow had started to slow them down, and a storm was making the wind howl. Beidleman grabbed Pittman by her harness, clipped himself to the rope, and began sliding down the fixed lines while pulling her along behind him. “We were on the edge,” he still says. “She wouldn’t have made it if she had been there by herself.” She wasn’t getting it. Sandy had used all of her mental and physical strength to reach the top.

A lot of climbers had already come down the fixed ropes by the time the storm hit full force. He had Beidleman, Pittman, Fox, Madsen, Gammelgaard, and a climber from Seattle named Klev Schoening on his team. Martin Adams, another member, had already left the peak. Japanese climber Yasuko Namba, who weighs 95 pounds, had fallen off the ropes and Beidleman had to pull her to the bottom. Hall’s team member Mike Groom was also there. He was attached to Seaborn “Beck” Weathers, a doctor from Texas who had planned to climb Everest for his 50th birthday but had trouble before getting to the top. This group had two Sherpas with it. They had to scream to be heard over the 50-mile-per-hour gusts of wind. Now it was dark, and it was completely clear. It wasn’t clear which way went back up or down. On the slope between Lhotse and Everest, the group went in different directions because they were half-blind and being blown around by the wind. On each side, there were sharp drops.

Beidleman gathered the people together and told them to stand with their backs to the wind. As a way to stay awake, they sat or lay in each other’s laps in a big dog pile, hit their friends and strangers, and yelled bad words. All of them had run out of air. The windchill dropped the temperature to 100 degrees below freezing, and the climbers were shaking so hard they couldn’t stop. If someone passed out, they would soon die.

Around midnight, the storm stopped, the stars came out, and the climbers chose to run like crazy to safety. Pittman and Fox, on the other hand, were too weak to walk, and Namba was barely awake. Fox remembers, “Our knees were giving way.” Pittman had to keep going, Beidleman remembers yelling at her. She tried to crawl but failed. Beidleman said, “We would all be Popsicles by morning” if no one got help.

Since Madsen was still in good shape, she chose to stay with Charlotte Fox, who was sitting in the snow with Pittman. They were quickly going away. Fox says, “We sat down to save energy and that way we wouldn’t walk off the mountain.” “I couldn’t open my eyes because of the wind.” My main goal was to stay living.

Schoening, Gammelgaard, and Beidleman set out. It turned out that they were only a quarter mile from camp. When they finally got to the tents, though, they were out of breath. It was 1:30 in the morning. Beidleman warned Anatoli Boukreev, a big Russian guide, that the other people were in great danger. It had been hours since Boukreev, 38, came down from the top. He is a world-class climber who grew up in the Ural Mountains. He set out right away. But the storm got worse again. There was no way to see. He came back after an hour. Beidleman and Schoening, who were thirsty and shaking badly, frantically tried to give directions.

Fox later remembered that she and Sandy Pittman had given up totally at the same time. By 3 a.m. They hadn’t been seen in 30 hours. They didn’t have any water. Their food was really frozen. Fox says, “Sandy and I thought this was the end, so we curled up in a ball and waited to die.” The way Tim was acting was better. “Knock Sandy on the back!” he said. Give her a rub! Get up and walk!I told them, “No, leave me alone to die.” “No one is going to save us.””

Boukreev looked for 30 minutes and finally found a light. Madsen was yelling, in his ears. He gave Pittman air right away, left Madsen with her, and quickly walked the quarter-mile to camp with Fox. He was tired and looked for other climbers who could help. No one could or would. Boukreev then went back out into the storm by himself. He told Madsen he had to stand up and walk when he got there. Pittman also tried to do it. But she couldn’t. When Boukreev talked to her, he told her, “She needs to take your power out of your head and go, go, go.”

Pittman did not have much to say. She told him, “I’m tired.” “I can’t.”

So Anatoli Boukreev pulled Sandy Pittman back to camp while carrying her half of the way.

The Russian with the barrel chest finally passed out after putting Pittman and Madsen in the tents. He had climbed like a machine and never used air. He wasn’t able to go back and look for them. This woman named Namba died not five yards from where Fox and Pittman had stopped. The wind had torn her down suit. Weathers was found with falling snow on top of him and had been left to die. However, by some miracle, he woke up from his deep sleep and barely made it into camp. He felt so guilty when he heard the news about Namba the next morning that he cried for 45 minutes. He and Boukreev had done everything they could to save their business. But no one came to help Namba.

After Makalu Gau was saved that morning, Boukreev began to look for Fischer, a close friend. His breathing mask was still on when he found him frozen in the snow. No one will ever know for sure what happened, whether he passed out from the high altitude or from walking people up and down the mountain for weeks on end.

The survivors had been in their tents on the South Col, which is at 26,100 feet, for a few hours and were very tired. All of them were mostly unharmed. Fox had frostbite on her big toes, and the others had snow blindness and small cuts and frostbite on their faces and hands. All of them were tired and irritable from being so high up. They had to come down as soon as possible. Beidleman had to give Pittman another dexamethasone shot on the way. He says, “She got really, really tired, fished it out, and said, ‘Give it to me.'”

The next day and night, they stayed at Camp 3, and everyone was on edge. Three days before, a Taiwanese climber on his way to the top had slipped and fallen off the side of the peak. It was the beginning of hell. Pittman wrote in her book that she could hear his screams as he fell into a deep crevasse. The survivors kept making their scary way down, haunted by memories. A Sherpa was knocked out by a falling rock between Camp 3 and Camp 2. But on Monday, May 13, they finally got to Base Camp. That’s where they heard the sad story of Rob Hall’s last satellite call to his pregnant wife in New Zealand before he broke off and went to wait to die in a crevasse near the top. On the north side of the mountain, three Indian hikers had also died. Eight people had already died.

The mountain was full of rumors. Talk and questions. “Everyone kept trying to figure out what was going on,” Fox remembers. “There was more sorrow than success.” Several climbers noticed that Pittman, who was sad and upset, seemed to be “worried about her image, her book.” That night, she did her first interview after the summit with NBC, talking on the phone with her close friend Tom Brokaw in New York. It made some of Fischer’s friends sick to see his group called the “NBC Everest Assault” mission. That name was never the real one. Pittman was the only partner NBC had. Even though it was a small thing, it hurt like salt in a wound. One angry team member remembers, “It was all about her.” “It looks like we were all there to make money and get attention for her.”

Fischer’s funeral was the next day, and the group talked about their sadness and guilt. The deaths made people very sad. They agreed ahead of time that no one would talk to the press until everyone was down from the mountain. When Pittman stopped writing on the Internet, she said, “I need to feel the impact of all this.” They also agreed that even though they had lost their leader, they had gone in as a team and would come out as a team. The speaker stated, “Nobody wants to feel like they’re running away from any of this.”

When the team walked down to Pheriche, the town below Base Camp, the next morning, it was clear that Pittman was eager to split up. She blamed her media duties. A member of the team remembers, “She was worried about repairing the damage.” On Friday morning, she hired a plane to take Madsen and the team doctor, Ingrid Hunt, to Kathmandu for $2,000. She could have hired a big Russian chopper to kill everyone for the same amount of money.

Pittman went right to the Yak and Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu when she got there. There, she took calls from reporters all over the world, including Oprah Winfrey. “Is it true that Oprah called?””She was heard saying.” Reporters could easily spot Pittman by the pool because her fingers were bandaged and there was a Hermès magazine on the table next to her. It was still hoarse from laryngitis when we talked on the phone, and the high altitude was making her cough in a choking way. When I asked her how she was, she quickly replied, “How do I sound?”Then, she said in a calmer voice that she was fine and that her injuries were not nearly as bad as she had said. She told me to call her at work when she got back to New York in a few days.

Fischer’s team got together for a picture on May 20 in the Yak and Yeti yard. She said she didn’t “want to do anything to stand out from the group” when she was asked to pose for Vanity Fair, but Pittman showed up fully made up and wearing a tight black miniskirt, a black shirt with a mandarin collar, and a fancy Tibetan headdress. The other climbers, who were mostly wearing casual clothes, looked surprised.

Pittman threw Fischer a big party with lots of drinks after the photo shoot. Fischer had been looking forward to the time when they would “line up the margaritas and toast a successful expedition.” Pittman used her own recipe for margaritas and hired a Sherpa band, but the party didn’t feel very special. Neal Beidleman’s voice breaks as he says, “I would give up Everest and every other peak for Scott’s life.” “But you should be proud that you climbed Everest and came back.” No matter what their skills or weaknesses are, I am proud of everyone on our team. Everyone reached the top and made it through a rough night. It was an amazing achievement.

Almost throughout the night, Pittman and some of her fellow hikers were tense with each other. Some people thought she tried to stay away from Beidleman and Boukreev, the men who had put their lives at risk to save hers. Pittman never said that she was in real danger or that she probably would have died without Beidleman and Boukreev’s help in the NBC interview or the long background interview with Newsweek the day before. After that, Pittman was asked on the phone about how she didn’t seem to appreciate the two men who had saved her life. She replied quickly, “Which two gentlemen is that?””


Journalist Jon Krakauer, who was on the New Zealand team and the second person to reach the top that day, wrote an honest and moving account of what happened on the website for Outside magazine. Krakauer, who wrote the best-selling book “Into the Wild,” is sure that Scott Fischer died because he was too tired to keep leading amateur climbs. It’s clear that Rob Hall died while saving his beginner client. Pittman, on the other hand, says that there were no heroes that night and that the guides were just doing their jobs.

“The debate raises the question, ‘What are you doing on this mountain if you can’t get yourself down?'” Krakauer said.”You can only ask so much of a guide or a sherpa,” he said. He thought that guided climbers might have a lot of experience, but that didn’t mean they were smart or skilled. He makes it clear that these climbers always have guides with them, calling them “high-altitude babysitters.” This is not the same as doing it by yourself. “You’re not ready to take care of yourself.” You learn how to work within a client system, which means that other people will pay for your things and take care of you.

As things got heated, experienced climbers tried to make the point that self-reliance, respect for others, character, and honesty have always been at the heart of climbing. “What happened up there was terrible, but some people looked great when they got down, and some didn’t,” said a climber who knows all the players well. It took 12 hours for Beck Weathers to wait to be saved. But he’s a hero because he’s telling the truth.

Sandy Pittman left for New York on May 22 to be with her family for her son’s 13th birthday. Although Pittman had already left, one of her fellow climbers says she was still shocked and feeling very humble because of how dangerous the mountain was. A guide from New Zealand who had climbed with her before laughed. “Not humbled, mate,” he replied. “Sandy Pitbull is never humble.” Perhaps more sober.” The dedicated Russian Anatoli Boukreev, on the other hand, hasn’t said much about the woman whose life he saved. But he has joked with other hikers, “Princess Sandy.” “Very wealthy and spoiled.”

Charlotte Fox believes that it is too soon to judge someone who has been through something so moving. Fox says, “Sandy is a strong woman who is committed.” You saved her life, but she might not know how to say thank you.


Three weeks after the terrible storm on top, Sandy Pittman creeps into the Café des Artistes bar. We agreed to get drinks together. The 5-foot-10-inch brunette Pittman is one of the strongest women, and her attitude is just as strong as her body. She looks like a muscular version of Jacqueline Onassis. She formally introduces herself as Sandy Hill Pittman and grabs my hand with a grip that would make Paul Bunyan proud. She is wearing a beige suede safari jacket with black pants and a belt. She looks healthy, though a little thinner than normal. Even though her fingers look fine, she says she has pleurisy and several broken ribs. A lama blessed the thin red string necklace that she wears around her neck and gave it to hikers in a puja ceremony.

It doesn’t seem to make things better. She is very pumped up and very energetic. From the way her jaw is set, it’s clear that she’s read the news from the past week. She had a big tale in the New York Post, which said N.Y. It says, “My hell on top of the world.” Even the modest New York Times made fun of it. The headline teased, “Everest Takes Worst Toll,” and the story on the front page said, “Refusing to Become Stylish.” Pittman says she is at her wit’s end as she runs her hand through her short red hair over and over again. She is mad, and maybe rightly so, that climbing Everest hasn’t been enough to get rid of her image as a party girl dressed in couture, and she gets angry at the slightest hint that she might have been the inspiration for any of the negative articles. She also doesn’t understand why people made fun of her bright electronic journal entries, in which she wrote about both the hard parts of trekking in Nepal and the normal nice things that people do in New York. “All of my personal things are packed,” she wrote from Central Park West, out of breath. “I couldn’t even think about leaving town without my espresso maker and a lot of Dean & DeLuca’s Near East blend.”

Pittman turns down an official interview after talking about it behind the scenes for more than an hour. She says it’s still too private and painful to talk about. I tell her that she is typing as fast as she can to finish her book and that she is planning a piece for Vogue and has already done a lot of public interviews for NBC. Her brown eyes get very angry. She quickly looks at her watch, announces another important event, and leaves quickly, leaving with the air of someone who thinks that people who live at sea level will never understand what it’s like to be above the clouds.

Sandy Pittman is not heartless, and her sadness for Scott Fischer and the others is very real. She is just confused and hurt that she has not been greeted with more joy when she gets home. She wasn’t ready for a parade with ticker tape, but not even a party? An old friend who still likes her says, “Sandy is unfortunately totally self-absorbed.” “She didn’t notice that her marriage was in trouble.” She has her own ideas about being a mother. She doesn’t see the signs that people don’t like her. “She does not understand.”

It’s also true that Pittman makes a lot of people in town jealous. Jurate Kazickas, a writer who has been to Everest and is married to investment banker Roger Altman, says of her, “She has a lot of guts and a lot of courage. No one in New York has faced the kind of physical challenge she has.” “But I think she’s too much for some people in New York, which drives them crazy.” She’s too good to be true—she looks great, rides motorbikes, climbs mountains, and flies her own helicopter. What does that mean to you? At a dinner party, who wants to talk to her about climbing K2? “She is one of a kind.”

Pittman has many fans, and among her close female friends are Martha Stewart, who is known for her style advice, and Blaine Trump, Nina Griscom, Sharon Hoge, and Katherine Sailor, who are all well-known socialites. Trump says of Sandy, “She’s very strong; she’s from another species.” Sandy is married to Trump’s brother Robert. She almost went on the Everest trip with Pittman, but her husband “wasn’t very happy about it.” Stewart also changed her mind when she had to deal with Time Warner. But Hoge and Sailor did hike up Everest for a while. Trump says that everyone was completely sure of themselves when Pittman was in charge. I once asked her what would happen if one of us couldn’t get down, and she said, “That’s okay.” “I can carry 150 pounds on my shoulder,” she said. “She also said she could sew us up.”

Pittman finally let a doctor do the surgery. Sailor hurt her head when she fell backwards on a day hike. With only a hut for a hospital, the women had to walk three hours to get to the next camp, where a doctor stitched up six wounds. Ken Lerer, Sailor’s public relations executive husband, was said to be angry when he heard about his wife’s accident. On the other hand, Hoge came back praising Pittman and sharing scary stories about her friend’s bravery and close call with death.

Some people seem to stir up trouble wherever they go, and Pittman’s trip to Everest was no different. She had been a big part of the mountain from the start. Some of the hikers at Base Camp had read enough to know that she was the beautiful ex-wife of a rich man. But she liked to brag about how rich she was, and she didn’t hide the fact that she was friends with important people. One of her emails from Martha Stewart was a birthday message for her soon after she got there.

Base Camp is a small town where everyone knows each other, and there isn’t much to do besides climb and eat fine food with each other. When Pittman came, the town changed into Peyton Place. Everyone on the mountain knew that Pittman’s friend David Breashears was there. They also knew that Pittman’s ex-wife, the pretty young graphic artist Veronique, had been hanging out with Pittman’s husband for a while. Also, everyone was very aware of whose tents shook at night and who had slept with whom before. The camp quickly became talking about a snowboarder, 26 years old, who was sharing Pittman’s sleeping bag.

Pittman was already well known from her two previous efforts to climb Everest. People still talk about the first time she came, in 1993, with her nine-year-old son and a babysitter. The following year, she went back to Everest on a trip that Vaseline paid for with $200,000 and that Breashears filmed for NBC. Pittman tried to climb the Kangshung Face this time, which is the technically hardest route. They were turned back because of bad weather after she paid a lot of money to hire four of the best climbers in the world. Pittman was so angry that she tore off a Kieselstein-Cord gold cross with semiprecious stones and threw it into the wild blue yonder. The Sherpas were horrified as they saw what they thought was a small fortune go away.

Pittman was in a Vaseline ad after the trip that called her a “world-class climber,” which is a ridiculous claim that has been the subject of many jokes. When she talked about the Kangshung trip later, like in a lecture she gave at the Explorers Club, she kept calling the experienced mountaineers she was with her “climbing team,” as if they were her equals instead of her guides. This made her less popular in the community. A skilled climber who was on the Kangshung Face with Pittman, Steve Swenson, supports her and says she has become too easy to target. Of course, he admits, “She was following us around while we fixed all the ropes, but she did as much as anyone else to raise money and deal with sponsors and the media.”

Rich hobby climbers have been around for a long time. Examples include Dick Bass, a Texas businessman and oilman, and the late Disney president Frank Wells, who co-authored Seven Summits with Rick Ridgeway. They both always said they were just starting out and gave credit to their teachers. Pittman seems to have become such an outcast mostly because she thinks she is better than everyone else. “I’ve seen the media circus, and I think Sandy Hill Pittman is a story about marketing,” says Jim Clash, who wrote about business and adventure for Forbes and climbed Kilimanjaro with Scott Fischer in January. Sandy is a beginner who was able to get news coverage and attention because most of the people she talked to didn’t know much about climbing.

David Swanson, who used to be president of the Explorers Club and editor of Summit magazine, says, “Some people climb for the attention, not the experience.” “And I’d say that 85% of people in the climbing community don’t like that kind of behavior and wouldn’t climb with that person.” Climbing is supposed to be basic and natural, and you should be aware of the risks and the surroundings. Not what it’s meant to be: a moving show.

Many hikers, though, thought the same thing about Pittman’s electronic show at Base Camp, where an NBC-provided Sherpa had brought bags full of high-tech communication gear. Pittman wrote to everyone on the team before they left for Nepal to let them know about her deal with NBC and ask them to take part. Most said no; that’s why they go to the mountains: to get away from things like this. Pittman not. It took her getting up at 5:30 in the morning and working on the NBC website until 9:30 at night, making sure the journal entries were always up-to-date and having online chats with famous people from New York, like author Jay McInerney. Charlotte Fox says, “She worked really hard at it.” “I said, ‘You’re doing all that while climbing Everest!'”‘ ”

Pittman had the most things to do of all the campers. In the two days before their summit bid, when everyone was keeping quiet, she told Scott Fischer that she was going to meet two friends for lunch in Pheriche. This shocked him. Hoge and Sailor showed up in their little hiking tent with 20 Sherpas and tablecloths made of linen. So, Pittman didn’t rest with her friends. Instead, she hiked down the mountain for five hours, stopping along the way to do an interview for the Today show. She seemed happy to drop everything and be a Himalayan hostess. She even left her friends notes of introduction on paper from Mrs. John L. Strong, an exclusive stationer. Even the best climbers on her team were taking a break while all of this was going on. A climber from another team says, “Her priorities were all over the place.” Then he guesses, “Those women were there to speak for her later.” They would be so moved by what they saw that they would tell everyone in New York about Sandy Hill Pittman.

No one can say that Sandy Pittman hasn’t put in a lot of work or dedication to getting better as a climber and athlete. She grew up in the foothills of Northern California. When she was a girl, she went on walks with her father in the woods. She began camping trips when she was 10. As a fat teen, she chose to go hiking over the beach and worked in Yosemite as a junior ski-mountaineering guide. During the summer, she went whitewater rafting, kayaking, and climbing. Unhappiness was her first big peak. It is in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. That’s what she told herself: “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”

She fell in love with Jerry Solomon at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Solomon is now a sports agent and is married to former Olympic ice skater Nancy Kerrigan. In the end, they both moved to UCLA, where Pittman got a degree in art history. After a year, they broke up. Solomon says, “She has always liked climbing, but now it seems to be all she does.” “She was always driven, and I don’t just mean when it came to climbing mountains.”

Pittman got a job at Wells Fargo in New York after moving there. After that, she worked as a beauty director at Mademoiselle and Bride’s. Her job came first, then climbing. She married Bob Pittman when she was 24 years old, in 1979. One story they often tell is that they met on a trip to Los Angeles and fell in love before they even got off the plane. As luck would have it, the plane had to go to San Francisco instead, so Sandy took him home to see her folks. They allegedly made passionate love on the living room floor when they got there and found that her parents were out of town.

Pittman began the kind of climbing that put her at the top of the benefit circuit soon after the birth of her son in 1983. In 1990, she and Bob were on the cover of New York magazine as “The Couple of the Minute.” One thing that everyone seems to agree on is that both Pittmans are great at promoting themselves. Time named Bob runner-up for Man of the Year in 1984. He has been in a lot of trouble because he claims too much credit for MTV, which he has called his “crazy idea.” The idea had been around for years, and many people think that executives John Lack and Tom Freston contributed just as much as Pittman, who went on to start Quantum Media (The Morton Downey Jr. Show) and then became head of the Six Flags theme parks at Time Warner. In August of last year, he quit the entertainment business to become CEO of Century 21. “People say, ‘My god, he’s had glamorous jobs, he must worship glamour,'” Bob Pittman told the Los Angeles Times, sounding a little defensive. “But my close friends know I only did it for the fun of it.”

It looked like the Pittmans were the perfect high-concept couple back in the 1980s. They bought a 15,000-square-foot dairy barn from 1910 in Falls Church, Connecticut, and turned it into a yuppie playground with all kinds of toys. It was called Birthday Hill Farm because Bob gave it to Sandy for her 30th birthday. It’s a 50-foot silo that towers over the barn that she turned into a climbing wall. After dinner and drinks, she would take guests for a vertical walk, which she calls “the Ultimate Challenge.” She also made a gym out of the barn with pulleys and ropes and made room for her mountaineering gear. At one point, the Pittmans even had a smaller barn out back where they kept three traveling Sherpas. There is a room with fishing rods, boats, and archers’ bows because she fly fishes. “They never relaxed,” one of the guests complains. “That’s not how I want to spend the weekend.”

Sandy Pittman is so organized that she has threads of different colors sewn into her clothes for each season (green for summer, etc.) so that she doesn’t mix them up when she packs. She never does anything half-way. Something a friend calls her “gangbusters approach” to everything she does. She became a pilot when she and her husband bought a two-seater helicopter to use for travel. She won blue ribbons at the town fair when she put flowers in the garden. When she chose to raise sheep, she asked designer Isaac Mizrahi to help her make hats and gloves for kids who are homeless out of the fleece from the first year. It blew my mind when she entertained. She once organized a pig roast on the front yard and bused 100 people from New York to the party. The canoes were filled with coolers with juice and muffins. People could ride in hot air balloons over the fields.

In October, the Pittmans had one of their famous parties. Fifty people ate under a Tibetan tent that was very ornately decorated. Yak stew and Sherpa tea were on the menu. Friends from the country, like the Brokaws, Lerers, and others, were there. As usual, everything was done so tastefully and beautifully, so it came as a big surprise when I heard they broke up a few weeks later.

Bob Pittman allegedly left their Central Park West apartment a few days before Halloween. It is full of things from her many trips around the world. What she said to her friends was, “I don’t know what’s gotten into him.” He told his friends that there had been signs for a long time, but she hadn’t seen them. She never came back. He told her, “Enough is enough.”

It’s funny because it was Bob Pittman who told his wife to do something important in the mid-1980s. He was the one who turned her head around, she said.

But even Sandy Pittman’s friends agree that her unwavering devotion to her hobby made it harder for her to get along with her husband. Nina Griscom says, “A lot of people think they can climb mountains whenever they want, but Sandy sees it as her job.” She also adds, “But in a marriage, it’s hard when someone finds out who they are in the middle.”

There was a private service for Scott Fischer on Sunday, June 9, at Kiana Lodge, which is close to Seattle, Washington. The Sherpas and most of Fischer’s team came to honor their boss who had died. Sandy Pittman came with Todd Harris, who made Pittman’s Everest website and is a senior writer at NBC’s online interactive service. Due to all the events, she didn’t have much time for Beidleman or Boukreev. There were photographers all over the place.

The Sherpas said a Buddhist prayer at the ceremony, and Fischer’s best friends talked about how much he loved the mountains. The mourners heard from Neal Beidleman, who was so thin he almost looked frail, that his friend’s body is still on Everest, “the place he thought was the most beautiful in the world.” Beidleman had saved his friend’s engraved expedition knife, which he found in his pack, and given it to Fischer’s two children, Andy, nine, and Katie Rose, five, as a gift from their father. After that, Fischer’s parents, his wife Jeannie Price, and other family members let out a cloud of butterflies into the air.

The survivors can now move on, but the beauty and power of the world’s tallest mountain will always be with them. Most of them plan to keep going up. Others will do the same. The Mountain Madness company says it has no plans for any trips to Everest any time soon, but business is great. Since the tragedy, the company has been getting calls all the time about planning more trips. Pittman will definitely keep doing what she’s doing. “There’s no doubt that Sandy is driven,” says Fox. “But she stood on top of that mountain, and no one can ever take that away from her, no matter how controversial she is.”

1996 Everest Disaster:

Hill’s third attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1996 turned into a harrowing ordeal amidst the infamous disaster. As part of the Mountain Madness expedition, she faced treacherous conditions, including a storm that claimed the lives of eight climbers. Hill’s survival and subsequent actions during the crisis drew significant media attention and scrutiny.

Post-Disaster Life:

Following the Everest disaster, Hill continued to share her experiences through various platforms, including interviews, articles, and documentaries. She defended her fellow climbers, Anatoli Boukreev in particular, against negative portrayals in the media. Despite the challenges and controversies surrounding the disaster, Hill remained steadfast in her love for mountaineering and continued to inspire others with her resilience and courage.

Portrayals in Media:

Hill’s story has been depicted in various forms of media, from TV movies like “Into Thin Air: Death on Everest” to feature films like “Everest.” These portrayals offer glimpses into her extraordinary life and the indomitable spirit that defines her journey.


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