Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) leads most of his group of climbers to the summit of Everest on May 10, 1996. As many of them are starting to descend, Doug, who had fallen behind due to fatigue and lack of oxygen, begs Rob to take him to the summit as well. The two successfully make it to the peak but are now hours behind schedule for return. Doug runs out of oxygen and he and Rob get stuck at the South Summit. A massive storm blows in and Doug is killed when he falls from the side of the cliff they were clinging to, and Rob is forced to spend the night alone in the elements with little oxygen and sub-zero temperatures.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the party is descending, they pick up Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) who was forced to abandon his summit attempt due to snow blindness. The group almost makes it to the highest base camp but the storm makes it impossible. Several in the climbing party, including writer Jon Krakauer, are rescued and escorted to base camp by a few intrepid climbers but Beck and female Japanese climber, Yasuko Nama, are assumed dead and left behind. Fellow climbing lead Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who was trying to catch up with Rob, dies of exposure on the mountain.
The next day after the storm blows out, several climbers and Sherpas set out to retrieve Rob who is barely alive. One of them reaches Rob, but without oxygen and exposed to the elements, he dies and the rest of the search party is forced to turn back. Base Camp patches through Rob’s pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley) over the satellite phone so that she and Rob can speak. Rob knows there is no hope for rescue, so the couple name their unborn child before he dies.
Beck Weathers, left for dead during the storm, wakes up and is critically injured with snow blindness and severe frostbite. He manages to stumble into Base Camp and the climbers reach out to his wife Peaches (Robin Wright) back in the US, who calls the US embassy in order to get Beck medevac’d to a hospital. It is extremely dangerous for a helicopter to fly at such a high altitude but the brave pilot rescues Beck where we later learn he loses both of his hands and his nose due to the frostbite damage.
Jan gives birth to a daughter weeks later and names her Sarah per Rob’s wishes.
All told, 12 people died attempting the summit or trying to rescue those who were trapped, making it one of the worst disasters on Mount Everest. Rob Hall and Scott Fischer’s body, along with many other killed on Everest, remain on the mountain today.