Now that they've left Camp Four, the climbers are above 8,000 meters, which is known as the "Death Zone" (13.4). The human body slowly dies every second it's at such high altitudes.
And they're running into problems already. Because no one has reached the summit thus far this season, there's no fixed rope installed at the area near the summit. For some reason, the lead guides didn't wake up early to install this fixed rope, which is an even bigger problem.
The reasons behind this aren't entirely clear, though it might have to do with a longtime beef between Ang Dorje and Lopsang. Since Lopsang is still dragging Pittman up the mountain, Beidleman helps Ang install the ropes.
As a traffic jam grows, Krakauer worries about their appointed turnaround time. It's already "mid-morning" (13.20) and Hall had stated that they must reach the summit by 1:00 or 2:00PM. Meanwhile, three more members of the team (Kasischke, Taske, and Hutchinson) concede defeat and turn around.
Krakauer reaches the Hillary Step and is once again forced to wait for the ropes to be fixed. He decides to help the guides to make it easier for everyone.
Then, just after 1:00PM, Krakauer reaches the summit. This honor is shared with Boukreev, Beidleman, and Harris.