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Observations placeholder

Haston, Dougal



Type of Spiritual Experience


Dr Dave Clark was the medical doctor for the expedition and was down at base camp.

The key part of this observation is the first sentence, but I have extracted the entire section to show the conditions in which it was experienced

A description of the experience

from  Everest the Hard Way – Chris Bonnington

DH  I was locked in suffering silence except for the occasional quiet conversation with Dave Clarke.  Hallucination or dream? It seemed comforting and occasionally directed my mind away from the cold.

That stopped and then it was a retreat so far into silence that I seemed to be going to sleep.

Shaking awake I decided to stay this way. We'd heard too many tales of people in survival situations falling asleep and not waking up. It seemed as if we'd both come to this conclusion and Doug's incoherent speech served to keep both awake. There was no escaping the cold. Every position was tried.

Holding together, feet in each other's armpits, rubbing, moving around the hole constantly, exercising arms. Just no way to catch a vestige of warmth. But during all this the hours were passing. I don't think anything we did or said that night was very rational or planned. Suffering from lack of oxygen, cold, tiredness but with a terrible will to get through the night all our survival instincts came right up front. These and our wills saw the night to a successful end.

First light came and we were able to start the process of preparing for downward movement. Checks showed an ability to stand up and move. Extremities had slight numbness, but no frostbite. Kidney pains were locking us in an almost bent-in-two position. Boots were difficult to get on. I gave up my frozen inner boots and used duvet boots as a replacement. The sun came up, but with no hope of getting any warmth to our bodies. Movement was the only way and soon we were across the cornice, saying adieu to Tibet and starting off back down the Face. The warmth of movement was almost orgasmic in its intensity as the blood started recirculating. Aware of the possibilities of lack of oxygen hallucinations and their potentially dire effects we kept a wary eye on each other as we belayed down the first few pitches.

DS We had not slept or eaten for nearly thirty hours, we had actually spent the night out in China, and we had done it at 28,700 feet without oxygen. Eventually we made the fixed rope and at nine a.m. fell into our sleeping bags at Camp 6. I put the stove on and looked around for something to eat and came across the radio. We had been so absorbed in surviving the night and the descent that at times it had all seemed so much like a dream, just the two of us and no one else in the world to share the cold swirling snow. The radio brought us back to reality, it crackled into life.

Answering voices-Chris concerned, relieved-happy with the success. Put on a good voice I  thought, don't want to sound slurred, although I felt it. "No, I don't think we are frost bitten," I said, for by then our fingers and toes were tingling.

The quality of survival had been good.

The source of the experience

Haston, Dougal

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps