Sandy Hill Pittman: A Trailblazer in the World of Adventure

Sandy Hill Pittman is one name that has been spread worldwide, not just for one, but for many reasons. She has been professionally working as a socialite, a mountaineer, and a former fashion editor. In the 90s, she was only a socialite and the former wife of MTV creator Bob Pittman, who was bored with her uneventful life. She made sure that she would explore everything adventurous as life went on. She took herself to Kenya, the Arctic Circle, and the Himalayas for horseback riding, kayaking, and trekking.

But, her life would change when, in 1996, a disaster on Mount Everest led 8 people to die who went along with her. Thankfully, Sandy made history when she survived the 1996 Mount Everest disaster while also making herself the 34th woman to be able to climb Mount Everest. Furthermore, Pittman is also the second American female ever to climb all of the seven summits in the world. There is so much to learn about this amazing personality; we have written everything you need to know in this article. Read until the end to learn more about Sandy Hill Pittman!

Sandy Hill Pittmann 1996 Mount Everest Disaster Survivor

Sandy Hill Pittman

Sandy Hill Pittmann really could not think of any misfortunes that may come her way when she booked her ticket to Nepal and flew there from New York on March 21. Sandy planned to make Everest her last climb and to make history with this one. She even had it in her mind to become the 3rd woman to ever summit Mount Everest. This also included her dream of becoming one of the few women ever to summit all 7 summits of the world, and Everest was her final goal.

Scott Fischer led the Mountain Madness expedition. This expedition, however, was not her first but the third attempt. In this attempt, Hill also promised NBC Interactive Media that she would stream everything from the base camp to school children in America. Sadly, the network was not as good as she reached higher. And this was labeled as the NBC Everest assault by media persons in America. On May 10, Sandy Hill and some other mountaineers succeeded in summiting the peak and exchanging their successes with a high five. Soon after, they descended from the Hilary Step. Her guide Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa Short, roped Sandy while ascending. On their return, the leader saw Fox, one of the team members giving her a dose of dexamethasone. There were several falls from many other climbers from other teams who could not withstand the extreme changing weather conditions.

Hill asked Fox for another dose of dexamethasone on May 12. Hill’s team reached the base camp on May 13. After hiking to Pheriche, Sandy Hill, Pittman, Fox, and Madsen departed on a chartered helicopter for Kathmandu. Eight people died that night, seven from other teams, and Jon Krakauer. It has been claimed that Jon was sent on another expedition and asked to check Everest’s commercialization and the increase in rich expeditors who went to the peak without expertise. Sandy was even called selfish and self-absorbed by an old friend after she returned.

However, Sandy says that she was portrayed as a villain and shown as an evil and rich socialite by the media. Pittmann was heavily disappointed and disagreed with everything the media had to say about her and the team she went with. Moreover, she added her say to the claims that everyone in her team behaved like one when they were at it.

While the media was peaking at portraying Boukreev’s decisions, Sandy defended him in a 2006 interview with Outside. She said in the interview that “most of what was reported in 1996 was prejudiced, sensationalist, and overblown—thrilling fiction at best—but not journalism.”

Though the mountaineer safely made it out of the Everest disaster, several claims from the media still would not stop showing her and a few of her teammates in a negative light. However, she did her best to defend themselves and stand up for what she felt was right. Furthermore, the Alpine Club gave Boukreev an award for heroism after returning from the world’s tallest mountain.

Sandy went on to talk about her experiences in Mount Everest through an issue of Vogue issued in August 1997. There she shared talked about the difficulties and challenges that came her way when she was on Everest, how she had always been passionate about climbing mountains from a very young age, and how difficult yet amazing experience it had been for her to be able to summit all the seven most sought summits in the world.

The TV movie Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (1997) was also shown in the light of what happened on Everest when Sandy and her team were there. Pamela Gien played the role of Sandy Hill Pittmann in the movie. Moreover, this movie is inspired by Krakauer’s book. Vanessa Kirby also played Sandy Hill in the 2015 feature film Everest.

A documentary film was aired in 2008 called Storm Over Everest, where David Breashears interviewed Pittmann. The film was aired on PBS Frontline.

Sandy Hill Pittmann Mountaineering

Sandy Hill Pittmann Mountaineering

Hill has a very old connection with mountaineering. Her interest in mountaineering began when she was only 13 years old. She climbed the Disappointment Peak in the Teton Range at 13, and her love for mount climbing never really decreased. In 1992, she became the second American woman to summit all seven summits globally.

By the year 1995, she had summited Aconcagua (1992), Denali (1992), Vinson Massif (1993), Mount Elbrus (1993), Mount Kilimanjaro (1993), Mount Kosciuszko (1994), and Puncak Jaya (1995).  Despite her two failed attempts, she succeeded in climbing Mount Everest in 1996. Hence, after Mary “Dolly” Lefever, she became the 2nd woman to complete the expeditions of all seven summits.

In 1993, following the South Col route, Hill attempted to climb Mount Everest but could not go above the height of 23,500 feet(7200 m). On the same expedition, she carried along a cross necklace custom-made by jeweler Barry Kieselstein-Cord. This necklace was meant to be buried in Everest, but as the summit was not a success, she was not able to do so.

In 1994, again, Hill, her film production partner David Breashears, along with mountaineers Alex Lowe, Barry Blanchard, and Steve Swenson, raised a corporate sponsorship with $250,000 from Chesebrough-Ponds to climb Mount Everest. But, due to the possible dangers of avalanches above 25000 feet, the team had to return home once again without any success.

Sandy Hill Pittmann Line between Life and Death

Sandy Hill Pittmann Line between Life and Death

Boukreev had always been the robust and high-spirited Russian mountaineer. He refused to use any supplemental oxygen even after having safely settled Sandy Hill and Madsen in their respective tents. Namba, another mount climber in the same expedition, was only a few yards away from Hill and Madsen’s tent when he passed away due to the harsh surrounding and depleting conditions as the altitude increased. He was found buried under a pile of snow in the most depressing state. Boukreev came to know about this news and was not able to even slightly consider doing anything for almost an hour. He wept for 45 minutes because he failed to save a client in the team.

Furthermore, since he had not used any supplemental oxygen, Boukreev did not have the energy nor enough air to fetch for the travelers who had been in trouble, including Namba, which led him to become very guilty. In fact, when Boukreev woke up from the coma, he only got to know about the death of Namba after a few while.

Thankfully for Sandy, she, along with Madsen, survived the harshness of Mount Everest and made it to Kathmandu and then back to America.

Sandy Hill Pittmann Early Life and Career

Sandy Hill Pittmann Early Life and Career

Sandy Hill Pittmann was born Sandra Hill on April 12, 1955. She was both born and raised in Los Gatos, California. She has quite a comfortable life growing up. Her father owned a business that facilitated portable toilets. She graduated from UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles. And she landed her job as a buyer for the now-defunct Bonwit Teller soon after she came to New York. She met an editor of Mademoiselle and started working as the Merchandising Editor of the magazine. This was her second job.

After some time working for the magazine above, she started as the Beauty Editor of Brides magazine. Hill, in 1986, started working as the president of a division of RJR Nabisco called “In Fashion.” She produced the show, which was all about fashion and style. She also has been an editor and writer for famous publications like Vogue and Condé Nast Traveler. Moreover, she has worked for many other companies as well as both editor and writer. The first TV program to feature fashion commentary in American history, Fashion America, was one where she worked as a producer.

Hill studied architectural preservation and restoration at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in New York. She started in 1998 and graduated in 2000.

Sandy Hill Pittmann Relationships

Sandy Hill met and married Jerry Solomon soon after meeting him, but the pair got divorced when she was only 23 years old. Solomon was a Columbia graduate and a sports business person. After calling it quits with Hill, Jerry married figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, while Hill moved on with MTV co-founder and media executive Robert Pittman. She gets her famous last name Pittmann from her husband of hers. When the ex-pair met, Robert was a radio disc jockey and the Program Director of WNBC in New York. They have a son together, who goes by the name Robert T. “Bo” Pittman. The couple got divorced in 1997.

Whatsoever, since the world knows Sandy for her survival on Mount Everest, her ex-husband’s last name has been connected with her ever since. However, after the divorce, she prefers to denote herself with only her maiden name, Hill. After the pair were divorced, Pittmann gave Hill a settlement of a total of $20 million.

On her expedition to Mount Everest, Sandy also met snowboarder Stephen Koch. The two lived together until 1997 in New York.

Again in the year 2001, commodities trader Thomas Dittmer and Hill got married in April. The couple bought a ranch and vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. As there was a prenuptial agreement before their marriage, Hill could not succeed in dismissing the agreement after their divorce in 2008.

Sandy Hill Pittman Controversy

Sandy Hill Pittman Controversy

As a media person and a famous mountaineer, Sandra Sandy has gotten into enough controversies. One of the most heated and shocking ones would be when her team was accused of being rich aristocrats who went to Mount Everest without supervision and expertise. This was a lie, as everyone in their team had been both experienced and under supervision to climb Mount Everest. There were several claims from people that would shed light negatively on not just Sandy Hill but also her entire team. She shared that everyone worked as a team and was experienced enough to climb.

The media so happened to have portrayed Sandy “pigeonholed as a rich New Yorker,” This was quite disappointing on her part, and she has broken her silence through different interviews and statements. Moreover, her defending Boukreev was also controversial at that time. But, in contrast to all the negative statements, Boukreev won a bravery award for his heroism from the Alpine Club.

However, the passing of years has also lightened the controversies against Sandy Hill Pittmann.

Sandy Hill Pittmann Books

Sandy Hill Pittmann Books Mountain Portraits of High Places

Sandy became the author of Fandango: Recipes, Parties, and License to Make Magic which was published in 2007. The book interestingly has content about lifestyle and recipes that will interest just about anyone. The recipe book was co-authored by Stephanie Valentine on the recipes. Moreover, she has written examples from the parties that she has organized in order to show how well the recipes work.

Her second book, Mountain: Portraits of High Places was published in 2011. This book includes artistic photographs from Galen Rowell, Peter Beard, Ansel Adams, and Frank Smythe.

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