He advised Hutchison to leave them there and concentrate on saving the lives of the people below at the camp, who still had a lot of mountain to descend to safety. Hutchison returned to camp, and three clients (including Krakauer) and a guide voted to confirm the death sentence.
The holes in the author's moral armor show in his account of the suffering of two of the other clients, Beck Weathers and Yasuko Namba.
Weathers was a Texas man in his fifties, Namba a Japanese woman in her late forties.
Meanwhile, Weathers had toppled out of sight, and the party assumed Namba was dead and left her behind.
The next morning, Stuart Hutchison, a client, organized a group of Sherpas to go look for the bodies of Weathers and Namba.
A May thunderstorm, a guide's unwillingness to turn a client back from the summit for the second time, another guide's hypoxia which led him to believe falsely that some oxygen cylinders were empty, were all contributing causes.
The backdrop: the belief of the guides in their own infallibility, their clients' misplaced confidence, and the human vanity of taking people up Everest who are not highly experienced mountaineers.When the eight arrived back at camp, only one member of the party, a guide, went out to search for the other five; Krakauer says that he and several other members of the group, still supine in their tents, were assumed to be too exhausted and were never asked.After several hours of misdirected efforts, the guide found the five.Krakauer, meanwhile, who says he was very ill, was asleep in a tent, and did not respond when one of the other clients proposed that they shine lights and bang pots to try to guide the lost party in.Meanwhile, Namba, Weathers and the others were beginning to suffer from hypothermia.They discovered that they were both alive, though frozen and near death.Hutchison asked the lead Sherpa for advice and was told that the two would certainly die.The guide had apparently died further up the mountain, trying to save another guide and client.Thus he had accused a man of cowardice who had actually died a hero.And found him still alive, though the tent had come open, and his sleeping bags had come off."He'd been screaming for help for two or three hours, but the storm had smothered his cries." Krakauer never so much as raises the question why nobody spent the night looking after Weathers.