A lawsuit filed against a veteran mountaineering guide last year after a failed attempt to summit Mount Everest in September 2019 has been settled. The guide, Garrett Madison, called off the climb when a serac—a massive block of glacial ice—was spotted hanging over the route to the top, and looked to be ready to fall at any moment. Also at base camp on their own expectations and disappointed not to summit that fall were mountaineer Kilian Jornet and Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel, Outside Online reports. Both called off their attempts because of the serac, which was well-documented at that point, per Explorersweb. “I don’t accept that kind of risk,” Bargiel said in a video posted to his YouTube channel, which has drone footage of the ice block.
But one of Madison’s clients, millionaire tech CEO Zac Bookman, concern over the deadly risk of a teetering ice block on an already dangerous climb looked like a scam. “I waited a week and was just in disbelief,” Bookman said. “I was like, ‘Am I being scammed here? It doesn’t make any sense, I don’t understand,'” Bookman said, per GeekWire. Madison says he offered Bookman a credit on a future expedition, or a summit on another peak. Bookman says he was offered a partial refund, which Madison denies. Bookman sued, and Madison, fearing bankruptcy and the loss of his business, countersued. Besides protecting his own interests, Madison wanted to protect the Sherpa from feeling pressured to take even greater risks in an already dangerous profession out of fear of being financially ruined by clients. He also bristled at a tech CEO calling his colleagues and friends “lazy and inefficient,” which Bookman did in a letter demanding $50,000, per Outside. “I feel like it’s a big win for myself and my company and for the mountain-guiding industry as a whole,” Madison told the magazine. Bookman’s suit was thrown out in September 2020, and it was Madison’s suit that was settled. The document specifically stipulates that Madison acted solely to protect his clients’—including Bookman’s—health and safety. (Read more Mount Everest stories.)