At the time, only two mountains above 26,000 feet had been climbed, and most expeditions were huge, with massive resources and hundreds of people working on getting two men to the summit. Aside from the usual threats of avalanches and getting crushed by falling ice blocks, there also was the danger of sheer exhaustion and oxygen deprivation; some climbers would just walk off cliffs in their oxygen-less confusion. Without supplementary oxygen at that altitude, which Buhl didn't have, climbers need to breathe 10 to 20 times before they have the energy to take a single step. And in all this, Buhl decided he was going to just walk up to the top alone, making it not only the first ascent of the mountain, but the first solo ascent.
Naturally, it was harder than he anticipated. He finally did reach the summit but not until 7 p.m. ... which means it was going to be dark on the way down. No, you can't climb down a mountain in the dark, unless you want to make the trip really, really fast, and wind up as a shattered, partially frozen bag of meat at the end. So Buhl was forced to spend the night at about 26,000 feet.
Standing on a narrow ledge, clinging to a single handhold.
All night. Knowing that if he fell asleep, he would tumble to his death.
"I wonder if I can pull it here."