Hall is the author of White Limbo, the story of the first Australian team to climb Mount Everest, and Douglas Mawson, the Life of an Explorer. Hall was part of Australia's first attempt to climb to the top of Mount Everest in 1984. While others in the team made it to the top, Hall was forced to turn back close to the summit due to illness. However, he reached the summit on another expedition in 2006. Hall lives in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia with his wife and two teenage sons. His new book, Dead Lucky, was released in the Australian market in May 2007, with an international release following towards the end of the year.
Hall was thought to have died while descending from the summit of Mount Everest on May 25 2006, after suffering from a form of altitude sickness that caused him to hallucinate and become confused. According to reports, Sherpas attempted a rescue for hours, but as night began to fall, their oxygen supplies diminished and snow blindness set in, they were ordered by their expedition leader Alexander Abramov to leave an apparently dead Hall on the mountain and return to camp. A statement was later released announcing his death.
However, the next morning at 7am (12 hours later) Hall was found still alive at 8700m by a team making a summit attempt. The team consisted of Daniel Mazur Team Leader (US), Andrew Brash (Canada), Myles Osborne (UK) and Jangbu Sherpa (Nepal). Myles Osborne described the scene just below the Second Step:
Sitting to our left, about two feet from a 10,000 foot drop, was a man. Not dead, not sleeping, but sitting cross legged, in the process of changing his shirt. He had his down suit unzipped to the waist, his arms out of the sleeves, was wearing no hat, no gloves, no sunglasses, had no oxygen mask, regulator, ice axe, oxygen, no sleeping bag, no mattress, no food nor water bottle. 'I imagine you're surprised to see me here,' he said. Now, this was a moment of total disbelief to us all. Here was a gentleman, apparently lucid, who had spent the night without oxygen at 8600m, without proper equipment and barely clothed. And ALIVE.
A rescue effort that mountain observers described as 'unprecedented in scale' then swung into action. Dan Mazur and his team abandoned their summit attempt to stay with Hall who was badly frostbitten and delusional from the effects of severe cerebral oedema, while a rescue team of 12 Sherpas, dispatched by Abramov, climbed up from below. The rescue team comprised Nima Wangde Sherpa, Passang Sherpa, Furba Rushakj Sherpa, Dawa Tenzing Sherpa, Dorjee Sherpa, Mingma Sherpa, Mingma Dorjee Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Pemba Nuru Sherpa, Passang Gaylgen Sherpa, and Lakcha Sherpa.
Hall was brought down the mountain, walking the last part of the way to Everest's North Col where he was treated by a Russian doctor. Hall arrived at Advanced Base Camp the next day in reasonably good health although suffering frostbite and recovering from the effects of cerebral edema..
Hall's survival and rescue on the mountain, while extraordinary, is not unprecedented. It was, however, especially poignant due to the death days earlier of UK climber David Sharp who had died nearby. It was observed that no attempt was made to rescue David Sharp, although it was apparent that, while unconscious, he was still alive while other climbers passed him and continued on their own ascents. The case had raised concerns, including comments from Sir Edmund Hillary, while Dan Mazur perhaps summed things up best when he said, reflecting on his team abandoning their summit attempt, "The summit is still there and we can go back. Lincoln only has one life."