succeeded on the southern face, through Nepal. That route is called the South
Col route. After the first ascent, expeditions climbed this dangerous mountain
with greater regularity and greater margins of safety. They began to unlock the
secrets of operating at high altitude and to find where the inevitable danger
spots were likely to be. They began to understand when the summer monsoons
directed the jet stream away from Everest to provide a window of acceptable
weather. They learned to leave their tents at midnight so that they would not
be trapped on the summit in the afternoon, when the weather frequently dete-
riorated. They were using design patterns.
Inevitably, people started to guide trips up the mountain with increasing
success. Many debated that some of the paid clients did not have the appropri-
ate skills to be on the mountain and would not be able to handle themselves in
the event of an emergency. These criticisms turned out to be prophetic. Two
expeditions led by the strongest guides in the world got trapped at the top of
Everest through a series of poor decisions and bad luck. An afternoon storm
killed many of them, including three of the six guides and several of the cli-
ents. Jon Krakauer made this incident famous in the topic Into Thin Air. The
design patterns were able to get them to the top but were unable to get them
safely back down. Good application of climbing antipatterns, like avoiding the
top of the mountain at dangerous times and holding fast to a prescribed turn-
around time, could have made the difference.
Learning from the industry
In many real-world situations, the principles of design patterns and antipat-
terns are combined. In heath care, aggressive preventive care (design patterns)
is combined with systematic diagnostics of health-related issues (antipatterns).
In manufacturing, quality certification programs like ISO 9000 (design pat-
terns) are combined with aggressive process analysis, problem identification,
and continuous improvement (antipatterns). Road signs are combined to point
out good driving behaviors like “Pass on left” and hazards like “Watch for fall-
ing rock.” In many other fields, the two practices go hand in hand. Software
engineers should try to combine these two approaches.
A powerful movement in the quality industry, from the late '70s through
the '80s, sought to involve front-line assembly workers in the quality process.
These teams were tightly integrated with quality professionals. The teams,
sometimes with light-handed management direction, would identify problems
and contribute a block of time weekly toward solutions to those problems. My
father, Robert G. Tate, Jr., became so attached to this process that he left a
high-level position at Dover Elevators to pursue a consulting career installing