The next morning, both Frank and Lou are at the head of the line, climbing toward Camp Four. It is a crowded on the mountain—at least fifty people are ascending behind Krakauer. Not wanting to get stuck in a pack of people, Krakauer climbs as quickly as he can, trying to pass climbers on the single rope leading up the Lhotse Face.
Initially, it is hard to gauge whether the supplemental oxygen helps; in fact "the mask actually gave the illusion of asphyxiating me, so I tore it from my face—only to discover breathing was even harder without it" (208). Krakauer eventually becomes accustomed to breathing the oxygen and makes good time up the Face. He describes the Face as breathtaking, the air taking on a "shimmering, crystalline quality" (209). He notices four climbers on the South Summit of the mountain and guesses that they are from the Montenegrin expedition. They are struggling with the wind and snow Krakauer can see swirling around the peak.
An area called the South Col, a rectangular plateau, is their launching point for the summit attempt. From there, Krakauer can see down the Tibetan side of the mountain. Surrounding Camp Four are more than one thousand empty oxygen canisters. The South Col is a flat place to put up a tent, but its ridge creates a wind tunnel, funneling winds that faster and stronger than those at the summit.
The weather gets worse throughout the afternoon. Lopsang, Fischer's Sherpa, shows up carrying an 80-pound load, largely due to Sandy Pittman's satellite telephone and hardware. Pittman intends to send the last group of Internet files from 26,000 feet. By 4:30, all of Hall's team is there, and the last of Fischer's team arrives even later, during what has become a nasty storm. Later still, the Montenegrins arrive, saying that they were unable to reach the summit. Hall and Fischer's groups are discouraged by the weather and the Montenegrins' unsuccessful attempt.
Later that night, Bruce Herrod, a member of the South African team, appears outside of Krakauer's tent. He is suffering from hypothermia and disorientation. He doesn't know where the rest of his group is. Doug Hansen also struggles with serious health problems, not having eaten in days and rapidly losing strength and stamina.
On the Col, Krakauer feels detached from the other climbers. They are linked only by circumstance, not by commitment, trust or loyalty. Krakauer says that at any other moment, his revelation would be depressing, but considering the other more urgent matters on his mind, he does not dwell on it.