Nearly two decades have passed since Lou Kasischke attempted to climb to the top of Mount Everest in what became one of the worst disasters in the mountain's history. Last year, the longtime Bloomfield Hills resident released a book telling his version of the expedition that, in 1996, claimed the lives of eight people.
"At the time, there was a lot of interest in my account, but I didn't feel comfortable being one more voice about human failings and those who were dead," Kasischke said, who wrote a portion of his book, After The Wind, in the two years following the disaster. "I established in my head what went wrong, and why I lived, and how I survived. At the time, I was content on letting it live in my file cabinet."
Kasischke was 54 at the time of the tragedy. He was already a well-established attorney with the Dykema Gossett law firm, and had scaled six of the highest summits in the world. Mount Everest, the highest in the world, was the only feat left. On May 10, 1996, Kasischke had nearly reached the top when he was forced to choose between getting to the top and risk being forever stuck on the mountain, or making it back home.
"When I was close to the top, I knew it was pretty dicey," Kasischke said. "It was never a question about getting to the top. I could almost throw a stone and get there. The big question was 'could I get back down.' And the answer was, 'no.'"
Several accounts of the tragedy, including author Jon Krakauer's bestseller, "Into Thin Air," have already been published about the expedition. But it wasn't until recently that Kasischke decided to publish his own account, and the reason for turning around that day.
"It was to pay tribute and honor my wife, Sandy," Kasischke said in his reason for distributing his book. "She was very ill, and was the critical force at work at the top of Everest that saved my life. To me, it was a love story, along with a tragic story, and that was very private. It was the strength that came from the heart, and the commitments and promises I had made."
While Kasischke said he wrote the book to honor his wife, whom he had never shown his drafts to over the years, it also sparked interest in Hollywood after being published in 2014. A movie based on the expedition is set to be released in September of 2015. Kasischke was a consultant on the film.
Married to Sandy for 47 years, Kasischke made the most of his life in Bloomfield Hills after being born and raised in Bay City. Today, he spends much of his time caring for Sandy in their northern Michigan home near Harbor Springs....continued on page 2