Andrew Michael Harris, otherwise popular as Andy Harris, was one of the mountain guides who died in the 1996 Everest disaster. The mountaineer was on his first expedition to Mount Everest, which, unfortunately, also became his last. Harris was, however, a very trained mountaineer. And he had been on many other expeditions in New Zealand. Hence, it would be wrong to say that Andy did not have the expertise to climb the highest peak in the world.
The expedition in which Harris was going as a mountain guide to Everest was led by Rob Hall. Many from Hall’s team perished in the 1996 disaster. A total of 8 mountaineers died in the mountain after a blizzard struck. We will talk about everything you need to know about mountain guide Andy Harris in this article. Make sure to read till the end to know more!
Mountain Guide Andy Harris Mount Everest
Mountain Guide Andy Harris was one of the most courageous mountaineers who attempted to guide climbers to the top of Mount Everest in 1996. The 1996 Everest expedition still marks a dark past for mountaineers as eight people passed away in a matter of a day in that year.
Mountain guide Andy Harris was one of the people who perished in the expedition. He was working as a guide in the team led by Rob Hall in the Adventure Consultants’ Everest expedition of 1996. Besides Harris, there were two other guides, including Rob Hall and Mike Groom, and eight clients, which included Frank Fischbeck, Doug Hansen, Stuart Hutchison, Lou Kasischke, Jon Krakauer, Yasuko Namba, John Taske, and Beck Weathers.
Before even starting the expedition, Andy suffered from gastrointestinal attacks. The expedition to Everest started on April 8, 1996, and Harris was suggested to stay back because of his health. But the mountaineer was not willing to listen as he wanted to proceed with his journey nevertheless. The team took off on April 8th, the same day they reached the base camp. He was hit by a boulder as big as a television on his chest. The hit, if positioned towards his head, may have led to his death. He realized this much later that day.
After midnight, the team made their way to Camp IV. Around 1:12 pm, other mountaineers Anatoli Boukreev and Krakauer, along with Andy Harris, reached the peak of Mount Everest. They descended soon after celebrating their victory. When Boukreev asked Harris to turn his oxygen off to save it for later, the mountaineer did exactly the opposite of what he was asked to do. He turned the oxygen up. He assumed that the oxygen in oxygen canisters near the Southeast Ridge had finished, but a little was still left. His irrational actions were later justified as a result of hypoxia.
Jon Krakauer reached Camp IV much later as he took the longer route. He reported to other climbers that he spotted Harris fall to the camp. Jon told his teammates that he thought Andy had already reached the camp. But, it was later proven that the body was not Harris’s but of another mountaineer. On May 11, a search team searched for lost bodies on Everest. Sadly, they could not find Andy Harris anywhere in the mountain.
John Krauker later wrote a book about his experience and that of other mountaineers with him on the peak in 1996. In his book, he mentioned that Andy died not only because of the high altitude and lack of oxygen but also because of his actions and irrational behavior on the mountain. Andy’s mountain gear and other belongings were found near the body of Rob Hall. However, the ones in search could not find Harris’s body anywhere.
Andy was reported to have been with Rob before Hall informed everyone that Harris had disappeared and was missing. It has been assumed that Andy may have been searching for Hall before he went missing. His axe and other remains found near Rob’s body increases the mystery intensity in the curious case of Harris. Unfortunately, despite the passage of so many years, his body has not yet been found.
Andy Harris’s Personal Life
Andrew or Andy Harris was a trained mountaineer who lost his life on the tallest peak in the world in the 1996 Everest disaster. He was born to Ron and Marry Harris on 29 September 1964 in New Zealand.
The mountain guide lived with his parents and elder brother, David Harris, and his girlfriend, Fiona McPherson, before he passed away. Fiona and Andy planned to live in Queenstown once their new home was built in the hills.
The mountain guide completed his education at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth. He worked as a helicopter skiing guide and an assistant for experts working with the New Zealand Antarctic Study Program (NZARP) to perform archaeological study in Antarctica and as an escort for mountaineers in New Zealand’s Southern Alps during winters and summers, respectively, from 1987 to 1992.
In 1985, he set a record for himself by climbing Chobutse standing tall at 6690m. He and his girlfriend worked together at a clinic in Pheriche that treated altitude-related sickness in 1994.
Andy Harris Legacy
Harris has set a legacy for himself, and mountaineers worldwide respect him for his courage during his 1996 expedition to Mount Everest. Harris lost his life on his way to save his teammates Rob Hall and Hansen, who were both found dead later. Though both his teammates’ bodies were found, his remains were lost.
Gus Cotters remembered Harris saying, “Andy Harris was a fun-loving, strong guy. I knew him from working at Mount Cook here in New Zealand, in the mountains. He was a guide who had a great love of life. He was a strong, lovable, slap-on-the-back sort of guy who you could have a good laugh with. Andy was the sort of guy who would make everybody around him feel that they were in good hands. He was the sort of guy that you ended up developing a good fondness for. And while I wasn’t on the expedition, this expedition in ’96, I could tell from the little time that I spent with him before them going that Andy definitely was one of the team and that he was starting to perform well as a high-altitude guide and that he had the affection and respect of the other members of the team.”
New Zealand Geographic Board named a peak in Victoria Land after Harris, Harris Peak in 1998. The New Zealand Bravery Star also awarded him in 1999 for his courage which was received by his old school. Moreover, Martin Henderson played the role of Harris in the 2015 movie Everest.
Andy Harris Memorial
When you walk from Gorkashep towards Everest, there is a memorial for the mountaineers who died in the 1996 disasters, including that of Andy Harris, Doug Hansen, Rob Hall, and Yasuko Namba.