I read this short story in the 90s, it seems oldish at the time. The human is incredibly surprised that his parachute lands safely on Earth, knowing how drastically his luck has been reduced. He lands on a slope, visibility is poor, he starts to walk uphill....

He had landed near the base of Mt Everest!

  • 2
    Was his intelligence reduced too? You're supposed to walk downhill to find people, not up. :)
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 6 at 0:43
  • 1
    Indeed walking uphill seems pretty silly, but I do not recall his intelligence being reduced. Commented Apr 6 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


This is almost definitely "Accidental Death" (1959) by Peter Baily. It was published in Astounding, February 1959.

The story takes the form of a dictated note from Matt Hennessy, last survivor of the ship Whale, destroyed by vast misfortune after encountering the Chingsi.

Matt survives a drop from space without a parachute:

"Just before I start the climb there are two things I want to get on tape. The first is how I got here. I've remembered something from my military training, when I did some parachute jumps. Terminal velocity for a human body falling through air is about one hundred twenty m.p.h. Falling fifty miles is no worse than falling five hundred feet. You'd be lucky to live through a five hundred foot fall, true, but I've been lucky. The suit is bulky but light and probably slowed my fall. I hit a sixty mile an hour updraft this side of the mountain, skidded downhill through about half a mile of snow and fetched up in a drift. The suit is part worn but still operational. I'm fine.

And ends up trying to climb Mount Everest:

At twenty below zero and fifty miles an hour the wind ravaged the mountain. Peering through his polarized vizor at the white waste and the snow-filled air howling over it, sliding and stumbling with every step on a slope that got gradually steeper and seemed to go on forever, Matt Hennessy began to inch his way up the north face of Mount Everest.

  • 1
    Also available at Project Gutenberg.
    – user14111
    Commented Apr 6 at 2:57
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    Wait - "whale" + a fall from a great height resulting from manipulation of the laws of probability: I wonder if Douglas Adams had read this? Commented Apr 6 at 10:30

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