9 'Everest' Characters Whose Stories Live On

by Katherine Cusumano

Everest by age 10, Kilimanjaro by age 15 — Sarah Arnold-Hall seems poised to follow in her father Rob's footsteps. Rob Hall was the head of Adventure Consultants, one of the Everest guide groups that was caught in a terrible blizzard that cost eight mountaineers their lives in 1996, including Hall. He left behind a wife, Jan Arnold (played by Keira Knightley in the film), who was nine weeks from due with Sarah, and in one of their final phone conversations the couple discussed what to name their child. "We talk about him a lot and she tells me she's going to climb Everest," Arnold told the New Zealand Herald back in 2003. "I've never encouraged or discouraged her." She was only six when she saw Everest for the first time, from a close-flying airplane, but where is Rob Hall's daughter Sarah now?

Because she wasn't born at the time of the events of the new film Everest, she makes but a brief cameo as an young girl at the end of the film. And despite her early aspirations to be a climber, by age 15 (still an avid climber and having just summitted Mount Kilimanjaro), she was tossing around the idea of fashion design, according to a 2011 report in Stuff. "When I was younger I was really into making things," she told Stuff. "I always wanted to make robots." Her father Rob, too, was something of a designer — Arnold told Stuff that he ran a small business "manufacturing tents and packs."

The memory of the father and husband both lost on the mountain back in 1996 continues to shadow Arnold-Hall and her mother. They were both closely consulted for the Everest film, and lead actor Jason Clarke told Deadline that he spent some time with his character Hall's friends and family. "Meeting Sarah was intense for me," he said. "She’s this tall, beautiful, lovely girl who never knew her father who is this iconic New Zealander." Both mother and daughter also attended the opening of the film at the Venice Film Festival. But they're not the only survivors of the tragedy who weren't among the expedition members — the story of the Everest disaster is filled with peripheral characters who have trooped on in the aftermath of the trauma or losing a loved one.

1. Guy Cotter

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Sam Worthington plays Cotter, the Adventure Consultants co-founder and successor to Rob Hall as CEO of the company. He was leading a tour on a neighboring mountain to Everest when the storm struck, and he became wrapped up in the rescue efforts for those near the behemoth mountain's peak. He bought the mountain guide company from Arnold after Hall's death and has been its director ever since, according to the company's website.

2. Peach Weathers

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Beck Weathers is perhaps the best-known climber of the survivors, with his stranger-than-fiction tale of reviving from a hypothermia-induced coma to make it down the mountain intact. (Well, mostly — he lost his nose, hands, and parts of his feet in the effort.) But his wife Peach (played by Robin Wright) is also partly to credit with his survival — she organized a helicopter rescue mission that ultimately brought him down the mountain, according to D Magazine. And all this after he had missed their 20th anniversary in order to join the Everest expedition in the first place.

3. Jon Krakauer


Jon Krakauer was among the Everest climbers, but it wasn't just a sightseeing tour — he was documenting Everest tour groups for Outside Magazine. The journalist later wrote about his perspective on the events for Into Thin Air, one of the most widely recognizable memoirs about Everest in 1996. His more recent titles include Under the Banner of Heaven and Missoula. He has been quite outspoken about his distaste for the film adaptation of the disaster.

4. Jan Arnold

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Rob Hall's wife Jan (Keira Knightley) was on the phone with him just hours before his death on the Everest summit. She, too, had planned to scale the mountain, but she was seven months pregnant at the time of the expedition and had to remain behind. A doctor by trade, Arnold specializes in women's health and advocacy at a clinic in New Zealand, where she still lives with her daughter Sarah.

5. Helen Wilton

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Wilton, portrayed by actress Emily Watson in Everest, was the base camp manager for Adventure Consultants and the Everest dispatcher who connected the call between Jan and Rob during their last communication. Wilton was present at the listening session of those recorded tapes during production of Everest, according to Entertainment Weekly, and like Arnold, she laments the treatment of the Sherpa in the film ("That would have taken about another movie"), according to Trailer Addict. Though she's no longer the base camp manager for Adventure Consultants, she's maintained close ties to the climbing community.

6. Caroline Mackenzie


Elizabeth Debicki plays Dr. Caroline Mackenzie, a doctor at the base camp during the rescue efforts portrayed in Everest. Mackenzie is now located in New Zealand, as are Wilton and Hall's family. She practices at a local medical center in Lincoln, New Zealand.

7. David Breashears

Breashears is a documentary filmmaker who was also involved in the making of Everest in addition to his own film about the disaster. He's portrayed by Micah Hauptman in the film, despite still being an active fixture in the film community himself. He made an IMAX film abut the mountain as well as another on Kilimanjaro for National Geographic Channel.

8. Madan K.C.

A Nepalese pilot involved with the rescue effort, Madan K.C. is played by Vijay Lama in the film. He made history with that rescue mission, which was the highest-altitude rescue operation by helicopter in history. He was later involved in the attempted rescue of climber Anatoli Boukreev elsewhere in the Himalayas, according to Mountain Zone.

9. Meg Weathers

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Dallas resident Meg Weathers was just a teenager when her father went missing on Everest. She's played by Mia Goth in the new film, but she told the local Advocate Magazine that she and her brother (named Beck II) have stayed out of the spotlight since 1996. She's now an avid roller derby competitor (and her father has taken up a new hobby, she reports — flying mono airplanes).

This, like the film Everest itself, is by no means a comprehensive list of the peripheral players in the drama. There were countless Sherpa involved in the expeditions and rescue efforts, though only Ang Dorjee takes much of a central role in the film. But it does serve as a reminder that the people whose lives are narrativized in the film are very real and were just as wrapped up in the events as anyone on the mountain at the time.

Images: Universal Pictures (3)