Jon, as a fellow journalist, author and sometime (VERY inexperienced) climber but serious outdoor athlete, much of what you write here hits home in some very difficult places. I specialize in consulting some companies which feature guides who, like Anatoli, likely have no business guiding. Their skills aside, they don't have the patience nor do they have the judgment that it requires to lead. That he would take a group of people who had never seen snow up the mountain says it all for me. That kind of irresponsible guiding has led to the conga lines and deaths on Everest and the wholesale "let's take ANYBODY" whether it's Class V rafting or the many extreme horse riding excursions I've done. This gives the adventure a bad name, rather than identify the problem: people needing money, and willing to do just about anything to get it, and taking on people who have no damned business in those environments.
Much of what you write here and that I have highlighted speaks to the helpless, childish arrogance of a man wholly incapable of owning his shit. That lack of personal responsibility makes people very dangerous, and likely cost him his life. The urge to prove himself above the laws of nature and physics are, to my opinion only, the kinds of compulsions which lead people to take on faster, more foolish ascents which are beyond their ability.
But that is my opinion only, Jon. Doesn't make me right, and I am not a white male guide up Everest with a lot to lose by copping to my own incompetence. The saddest piece is that when I do- and believe me my incompetence makes for my absolute best copy for its hilarity- is what saves my skin. Perhaps above all, and keep in mind I'm ex-military, when I learn what cannot do well, I either build the skills on lean on those who are better than I am. But such humility is not always present in those who might need it most.