As nearly 300 people vied for the summit on May 18 and 19, the worst imaginable scenario came true.
People with varying degrees of experience labored up the face as the weather shifted. Exhausted from so little rest in the four succession camps, they were also short on oxygen and losing weight because the thin air makes it tough to metabolize food.
They waited for hours in the death zone, their chances for survival shorter by the minute. Some had to summit as evening fell, something no seasoned climber would attempt, Kedrowski said.
Then the storm arrived.
Visibility dropped. The climbers crept. They ran out of oxygen, their estimates shot after waiting so long in the death zone. Sixty-mph winds leeched their body heat. Down-filled suits, thick boots, layered gloves, hats and goggles couldn't beat back a wind chill of 70 below, Tomer said.
For some teams, survival trumped summit as the ultimate goal. Others had altitude sickness, but after flying to Nepal and paying thousands of dollars, they felt had to reach the top. Hypoxia, the deprivation of oxygen, made their own decision-making an obstacle.
Klorfine eventually reached the summit, but her journey home would end in the death zone, along with three other climbers from Germany, South Korea and China.
Love and determination
Klorfine was bright and intense, a passionate idealist. The same qualities that compelled her to summit Everest also spoke to Bruce Klorfine's heart in July 2001, when the two met though their work on a cruise line between Boston and Bermuda, he said.
Bruce was the piano player in a lounge, Shriya the lounge hostess. From the beginning, their relationship was fun and romantic, paradise its backdrop.
"She made me rise to a certain level of intensity because I felt she had that, and I rode the wave," Bruce said. "It was easy to imagine starting a life with her."
Bruce bought a ring in 2002, while they were docked in the Caribbean. He proposed on the ship. In April, they were married in Mumbai, where she lived, before moving to Bruce's home in Toronto. She wanted to be an entrepreneur. She encouraged Bruce to turn his IT hobby into a career.
Originally from Nepal, Shriya often discussed Everest before revealing in 2011 that it was her dream to climb the legendary peak. It made Bruce nervous, but Shriya was serious, as she was with all her goals.
"To be honest, I'm still really struggling to understand why her, and why that endeavor," he said.
She was an independent soul, like him, and after realizing she wouldn't be swayed, he supported his wife's ambition.
They'd talk sporadically when Shriya reached base camp, mostly about everyday things, He didn't want to trouble her with his worries.
Her last call came while he was at work. He had no privacy so he couldn't tell Shriya he loved her. Instead, he told her to stay safe. Shriya said she wouldn't push herself too hard.
Like many of the climbers on May 18 and 19, she saw an opportunity and took it, but she climbed too slowly and used too much oxygen. Everest forgives neither.
Bruce learned of her death the same way he learned of her summit, through a phone call. He flew to Nepal and paid to airlift her body down from the mountain. He'd learn of the persistence that killed her, how she wouldn't turn back and descended on her own with a single bottle of oxygen someone gave her.
"It was a flawed plan, but I really feel it highlights what was best about her in a way -- the determination to accomplish something that she set her heart on," he said. "I could never underestimate her. ... I feel like I understand it, even if people say it's foolhardy or thoughtless or stubborn. In a way, it's her finest moment, really."
A daring death zone rescue
Ben Yehuda had had a bad feeling the night before, and as he attempted to reach the summit, he was unable to pass the crowds. An experienced climber, he should've made it from Camp 3 to Camp 4, in the death zone, in six hours. It took almost 13.
Once there, Ben Yehuda opted to remain at Camp 4 to let the crowds pass. He sipped on his oxygen to conserve it, but his brief pit stop stretched into 24 hours.
When he resumed his climb, Ben Yehuda came across a body. He expected to see them in the death zone, but not in 2012 expedition gear.
It was Klorfine. He'd met her at base camp. Two hours later, he saw the body of Song Wondin. He touched each one to see if they were alive. Neither was wearing an oxygen mask. They were still attached to ropes. Every climber had to pass them.