Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Info

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National Bestseller 
A bank of clouds was
assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon
Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that
"suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The
storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including
Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for
Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996
disaster.
By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have
hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the
painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to
provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and
gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids
blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who
brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly
personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight
into what went wrong. But for Krakauer himself, further interviews and
investigations only lead him to the conclusion that his perceived
failures were directly responsible for a fellow climber's death.
Clearly, Krakauer remains haunted by the disaster, and although he
relates a number of incidents in which he acted selflessly and even
heroically, he seems unable to view those instances objectively. In the
end, despite his evenhanded and even generous assessment of others'
actions, he reserves a full measure of vitriol for himself.
This
updated trade paperback edition of Into Thin Air includes an
extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious
debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev
in the wake of the tragedy.  "I have no doubt that Boukreev's
intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in the postscript,
dated August 1999. "What disturbs me, though, was Boukreev's refusal to
acknowledge the possibility that he made even a single poor decision.
Never did he indicate that perhaps it wasn't the best choice to climb
without gas or go down ahead of his clients." As usual, Krakauer
supports his points with dogged research and a good dose of humility.
But rather than continue the heated discourse that has raged since
Into Thin Air's denouncement of guide Boukreev, Krakauer's tone
is conciliatory; he points most of his criticism at G. Weston De Walt,
who coauthored The Climb, Boukreev's version of events. And in a
touching conclusion, Krakauer recounts his last conversation with the
late Boukreev, in which the two weathered climbers agreed to disagree
about certain points. Krakauer had great hopes to patch things up with
Boukreev, but the Russian later died in an avalanche on another
Himalayan peak, Annapurna I.
In 1999, Krakauer received an
Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and
Letters--a prestigious prize intended "to honor writers of exceptional
accomplishment."  According to the Academy's citation,
"Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of
investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight
of the born writer.  His account of an ascent of Mount Everest
has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the
commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his
account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of
starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more
deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the
devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster:

5

Jun 19, 2009

Life got you down? Then join us on a guided expedition led by Capital Idiocy Inc. as we climb to...

The Summit of MOUNT EVEREST

For the bargain price of $65,000,[1] we will take you on the adventure of a lifetime full of scenic views,[2] camaraderie,[3] and athleticism.[4]

Worried that you lack the necessary climbing experience?
Don’t be discouraged![5] While Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, it is not the most technically challenging climb. And in addition to our expertise and Life got you down? Then join us on a guided expedition led by Capital Idiocy Inc. as we climb to...

The Summit of MOUNT EVEREST

For the bargain price of $65,000,[1] we will take you on the adventure of a lifetime full of scenic views,[2] camaraderie,[3] and athleticism.[4]

Worried that you lack the necessary climbing experience?
Don’t be discouraged![5] While Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, it is not the most technically challenging climb. And in addition to our expertise and mentorship, we will have the support of the local populace, the Sherpa, to handle the basic logistical arrangements so that you can focus on the prize.[6]

Never been above sea level?
Don’t sweat it! We will prepare you for the high altitudes with our carefully developed Acclimatization Program.[7]

Sensitive to the cold?
We have you covered…with the best protective clothing available![8]

When the time is right,[9] we’ll organize the final push to the summit where you will enjoy the exhilaration of being the King/Queen of the world.[10]

Remember your safety and health are our top priority![11]

What are you waiting for? There is limited space! Call us today at 1-800-YOU-DEAD to sign up.[12]

-----------------------
[1] Does not include airfare to Nepal and subsequent FedEx expenses when we return your personal belongings to your grieving spouse in [insert idyllic American town here].

[2] Just avert your eyes from the dead bodies along the trail. They have been there for years. Honestly, after the first one, you won’t notice them anymore.

[3] Well, most of the people are great. Some of them suck big time…when it matters most too. They’ll pass you over for dead THREE TIMES before they put some effort into helping you.

[4] Just kidding! We’ll provide bottled oxygen at the higher altitudes.

[5] Seriously, zero experience is required. We’ll take anyone.

[6] That’s an understatement! We would be screwed without these guys. They cook, carry the heaviest loads, and lay out the ropes. Essentially they take care of the most dangerous tasks for a fraction of what we pay our Western guides. Plus they always have a delicious, steaming cup of tea ready when you reach your tent.

[7] It really is a good program. But you can never be 100% sure how high altitude will affect individuals. We’ll do our best to help if you develop High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) where your brain starts leaking fluids, but remember at the top of a mountain, there is only so much we can do. And again, that’s not much.

[8] But it’s still damn cold up there. And if a storm hits and you cannot find your way back to camp? Oh boy! Get ready for a windchill exceeding 100 below zero. And frostbite. Lots of frostbite. Plus what good is all that gear when people keep losing their mittens and we find the deceased half-stripped?

[9] Did you not read the previous footnote? Storms. They can come out of nowhere.

[10] For a few minutes at least. Plus we use the verb “enjoy” loosely. You won’t have slept or eaten properly for days. You’ll be physically spent. And with your severely handicapped mental capabilities, you may not even realize where you are. Heck, you may not even be at the top in actuality! Some losers mistakenly thought they’d reached the top and placed all their trinket flags. They were off by a good 500 feet. (Plus they died on the way down. Double losers.)

[11] Now that’s just a lie. Our number one priority is getting you to the summit, no matter the risks. Otherwise you’ll run home and whine that we turned you around 200 feet from the top. You won’t think to thank us that you are alive to do said whining. And you’ll hurt business. Plus it’s hard as hell to keep you safe up there and you won’t be one quota of help. And health? Ha! You can hardly hold us accountable for the intestinal parasites you’ll contract in that camp where everyone shits in the open.

[12] Having second thoughts? Look, why don’t you read Into Thin Air instead? You can read it at home in your bed, safe and warm. The author, that crazy guy, already climbed Mount Everest for you. He reminds me of travel writer, Bill Bryson with his accessible, factual, and tension-filled writing, minus the humor. Because climbing Mount Everest is not funny. Vicariously, that’s the only way I recommend climbing this one. ...more
3

Nov 20, 2010

RELEASE THE KRAKAUER!!!!


seriously, it is time to just raze everest and be done with it already. i mean, it's big and impressive but it is just taking up all this room and killing people so why do we even need it anymore?? can't we just get over it? really, i think it has reached its peak and is all downhill from here.

shameless punning aside.

so this started out as an article that KRAKAUER was asked to write for outside magazine about the commercialization of everest. it should embarrass us that RELEASE THE KRAKAUER!!!!


seriously, it is time to just raze everest and be done with it already. i mean, it's big and impressive but it is just taking up all this room and killing people so why do we even need it anymore?? can't we just get over it? really, i think it has reached its peak and is all downhill from here.

shameless punning aside.

so this started out as an article that KRAKAUER was asked to write for outside magazine about the commercialization of everest. it should embarrass us that something that costs 75,000 dollars to even attempt even has the potential to become "commercialized". (for example - i just balked at shelling out $7.17 for the sandwich i am eating. and like everest, it is kind of crappy) how misplaced is our spending? for fifty bucks a toe, i will chop yours right off and you can pretend you climbed everest and had a gay old time. everyone wins! but there are purists who think that there was golden age of everest and everything since then has just been compromised and now everest is a trash heap full of inconvenient dead bodies and empty oxygen bottles and really just anyone can climb everest so it isn't even a challenge anymore...

THAT IS THE KIND OF ATTITUDE THAT EVEREST WILL FUCKING KILL YOU FOR HAVING!!!

do not climb everest - it is a trap!!



when i was making this year's thanksgiving meal, i decided to have a little fun and incorporate things i learned from everest into the prep. because i had soooo many brussels sprouts to prepare, as well as parsnips, carrots, beets, sweet and regular potatoes, turnips, onions, cauliflower, etc. it was a lot of peeling. and i tried to see how many i could peel while holding my breath, and what that did to my motor skills. all i learned is that i really like to breathe and any activity in which i cannot breathe is not for me. by the end, i was weeping, "KRAKAUER wouldn't give up!! he would chop allllll the brussels sprouts!!!"

but from everything i have read of everest (note: two books) it is THE WORST. all of the reaching of the summit which should be time for celebration is always so anticlimactic. you can't stay up there very long because humans need to breathe and all; there is no fireplace and hot cocoa like at the top of the viennese alps, and then there is the small matter of DESCENDING!! all that bullshit and putting-up-with for ten seconds of "experience"?? i gave all that up in high school, thank you very much.

oh shit - i have class now. i will "review" more later...

okay, so i went to class. i learned some stuff.and i don't have much more to say about this. it is not as action-packed as peak, and a lot of it reads like KRAKAUER working through his personal demons and dealing with his culpability, but it is still interesting. i still think everest is unnecessary - it is like a hot fourteen year old - who needs that kind of temptation, right? oh, and also, this:



seriously. everest: who needs it?

...more
5

Jun 21, 2007

I recently attended the Banff mountain film festival in Canada. One of the key speakers was Simone Moro, the close friend of Anatoli Boukreev, the climber who was killed in an avalanche several years ago on Annapurna and whom Krakauer pretty much vilifies in this book as not having done enough to save the lives of those caught in the blizzard on Mount Everest in May of 1996. Needless to say, the vibe in the room was chilly whenever the subject of Krakauer's version of events came up; he was I recently attended the Banff mountain film festival in Canada. One of the key speakers was Simone Moro, the close friend of Anatoli Boukreev, the climber who was killed in an avalanche several years ago on Annapurna and whom Krakauer pretty much vilifies in this book as not having done enough to save the lives of those caught in the blizzard on Mount Everest in May of 1996. Needless to say, the vibe in the room was chilly whenever the subject of Krakauer's version of events came up; he was accused of slander and some in the room even claimed that he had not done much himself to save the lives of those in danger during the Everest disaster.

Nevertheless, as a reader of climbing nonfiction, I stand by Krakauer. I have always found his account of the Everest disaster an intensely moving and thought-provoking one. Like Joe Simpson's books, Into Thin Air reveals its speaker to be a climber with a conscience. Kraukauer loves climbing but is completely honest about the fact that such a dangerous sport so often puts one in the agonizing position of having to make life or death decisions under conditions that make clear thinking nearly impossible-- the cold, the lack of oxygen, the immense strain on the body at that great elevation. One gets the sense while reading that he is trying to make sense of this crazy sport as he writes, that this book is his process of figuring out the answer to the question: with all of the dangers and fatalities that result from climbing Everest, why on earth do people actually sign themselves up for this kind of thing?

In the years since I first picked up this book, I have discovered many other great climbing books in the adventure genre, although Krakauer's remains one of my all-time favorites. For more accounts of the Everest disaster, see also Boukreev's The Climb and Beck Weather's Left for Dead. If you enjoy Krakauer's writing, you might also enjoy Nando Parrado's Miracle in the Andes, a true account of the narrow escape of some members of a Uruguayan rugby team that survived by any means necessary-- and I do mean ANY means necessary--two grueling months in the Andes after their plane crashed in the mountains on the way home from a game. In addition, Joe Simpson's Touching the Void is a similarly remarkable story of a climber who survives unlikely odds after breaking his leg on the side of the mountain Siula Grande in Peru. There are also movie versions of both (Titled Alive and Touching the Void, respectively.) In addition, a movie version is due out soon for one of Krakauer's other wilderness adventure books, Into The Wild. ...more
4

Nov 28, 2018

i feel beyond guilty for finding so much fascination with what was the most horrific moment in krakauers life. i am a terrible human, but i honestly couldnt put this down.

there is just something about krakauers writing that makes me think his grocery lists are equally alluring. and knowing how personal this was for him made this book that much more captivating for me. i loved how this is formatted, the way the facts are presented, and how coherent the timeline and his commentary is. just i feel beyond guilty for finding so much fascination with what was the most horrific moment in krakauers life. i am a terrible human, but i honestly couldnt put this down.

there is just something about krakauers writing that makes me think his grocery lists are equally alluring. and knowing how personal this was for him made this book that much more captivating for me. i loved how this is formatted, the way the facts are presented, and how coherent the timeline and his commentary is. just everything about this invites the reader in in such an informative and also highly emotionally way.

i truly cant imagine what i would have done or how i would currently feel if i was in his shoes. but i am so grateful that he felt the desire to share and document this story. so tragic, and yet so fascinating.

↠ 4 stars ...more
3

Nov 30, 2007

This is not a review. I don’t feel like writing a review for this book, but I feel like I should at least say something about it because I did enjoy it. I mean, it did make me utter “Jesus Christ” out loud more than one time, and I don’t often talk to myself while I am reading a book.

(I almost want to post a picture of a LOLcat with a caption that says “This buk wuz gud,” but I don’t have one.)

So…These are a few things I learned from reading this book:

1. If a person decides to climb Everest, This is not a review. I don’t feel like writing a review for this book, but I feel like I should at least say something about it because I did enjoy it. I mean, it did make me utter “Jesus Christ” out loud more than one time, and I don’t often talk to myself while I am reading a book.

(I almost want to post a picture of a LOLcat with a caption that says “This buk wuz gud,” but I don’t have one.)

So…These are a few things I learned from reading this book:

1. If a person decides to climb Everest, they are likely to encounter dead bodies along the route up to the summit.

2. Lobuje, which is on the way to Everest Base Camp, is a place that overflows with human excrement. While Krakauer was there in 1996, he wrote "Huge stinking piles of human feces lay everywhere; it was impossible not to walk in it." Lovely. Insert “Want to get away from it all?” commercial here.

3. Without the assistance of Sherpas, it is unlikely that climbers would be able to reach the summit at all. Besides schlepping tons of your crap, they also know the way, and they place climbing ropes and in some instances, repair ladders, so people will be able to ascend the trickier places.

The place would also be a lot dirtier without them because they are partially responsible for removing some of the trash that Everest has accumulated over the years. One camp reported having around a thousand empty canisters of supplemental oxygen (as I said below in a review comment, so I might as well stick it in here, too).

4. In 1996, it cost $65,000 to be a client on a guided tour climbing Everest.

5. It is very easy to develop high-altitude sicknesses and/or hallucinations as a climber gets closer to the summit. In fact, the "every man/woman for him/herself" attitude that people had, whether or not they had to have it in order to survive, was more than a little disturbing.

On this particular excursion, two climbers got stuck on the mountain during a storm. They spent the night at 28,000 feet without shelter or supplemental oxygen and were believed to be dead. The guide sent to look for them the next day found them barely breathing after chipping off three inches of ice from their faces. Believing that they were beyond help, he left them there. One of the climbers, my personal hero, woke up from his coma hours later and was lucid enough to get himself back down to one of the camps. Sure, he lost half an arm, his nose, and all of the digits on his other hand to frostbite, but he's still alive.

Oh, and sure, the events that happened on Mt. Everest in 1996 were tragic, but I do think the people who climb it know what they are risking. ...more
4

Sep 07, 2015

Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Everest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics, and others with a shaky hold on reality.”



Welcome to one of Kelly’s creepy obsessions! (Advance apologies - this might get rambly.) Okay, so I’m totally obsessed with all things Everest and CAN. NOT. WAIT. to see the movie that details the same tragic events which are covered in this book (even though just watching the preview in IMAX 3-D made me Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Everest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics, and others with a shaky hold on reality.”



Welcome to one of Kelly’s creepy obsessions! (Advance apologies - this might get rambly.) Okay, so I’m totally obsessed with all things Everest and CAN. NOT. WAIT. to see the movie that details the same tragic events which are covered in this book (even though just watching the preview in IMAX 3-D made me have diarrhea). I have spent the past month watching EVERYTHING Everest-related on Netflix and You Tube. (Note: I highly recommend the television series Everest: Beyond the Limit as well as Ultimate Survival: Everest – unfortunately the IMAX Everest documentary which was filmed during this fateful 1996 expedition didn’t end up so great. Kudos to the filmmakers for attempting to produce a final product, but really once you’ve watched 8 of your fellow climbers die your heart probably isn’t in the project so much.)

Anyway, back to my bizarre fangirl squeeing. Because I’m ignorant I had no clue that Into Thin Air was an Everest book or that it was THE Everest book detailing the storm of the century . . .



(Note #2: The film is the same story, but the rights to Krakauer’s book were not purchased in order to make it – it’s a conglomeration of all of the survivors’ memories.) I had read Into the Wild and enjoyed Krakauer’s ability to spin a tale, but wasn’t thrilled with the story as a whole so I put his name on the backburner of authors I would read in the future should I come across him. Then everyone started reading Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town which brought him back to the forefront and me searching for his books – which leads to long story long HOLY SHIT HE WROTE AN EVEREST BOOK?!?!?!?!?!

Please note I have zero desire to ever attempt to climb Mt. Everest (or anything higher than a flight of stairs). EVER. First, I’m fat and have resigned myself to the fact that I will always be at least a little bit so. Second, I’m terrified of heights. We’re talking I can’t climb a stepladder. And third, EVEREST. Seriously. You know what you die of on Everest? Your BRAIN F-ING SWELLING TO THE POINT WHERE YOUR EYEBALLS BULGE OUT OF YOUR HEAD. Either that or you drown on your own lung juices. Drowning in water terrifies me, drowning because I was dumb enough to attempt to climb to the height of where a jumbo jet flies is beyond my comprehension. All that being said, I did the next best thing to really make me feel part of the action – I read this book while walking at a 30% incline on my treadmill. Just like being there I’m sure . . .



I can never wrap my brain around the fact that people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to go on a vacation where there is a one in four chance of dying rather than reaching the summit. That’s cray. I also am one of the nutters who, although totally obsessed with the climbing of Everest, doesn’t really want anyone doing it. Everest is one of the natural wonders in the world – and due to the “cool factor” that one gets should they reach make it safely to the top and back down again it is also the home of 10 tons of garbage and heaping pyramids of human waste. It’s also a place where inexperienced adventure seeking overgrown children think they can buy their way to the top, but as Rob Hall (one of the expedition leaders who lost his life to the mountain) said . . .

“With enough determination, any bloody idiot can get UP this hill. The trick is to get back down alive.”

For a price of between $50,000 to $100,000 nearly anyone can attempt to make the climb and many believe the hiring of Sherpas and the hopes of being “short-roped” if the going gets tough will let them achieve their dream. While Krakauer was lucky enough to be matched up with some experienced climbers (between Rob Hall and Scott Fischer’s groups there was TONS of publicity/advertising money at stake so they needed everyone to summit safely in order to promote their expedition companies) they were still a rag-tag team of climbers that mixed expedition leaders, guides, sherpas, a lawyer, several doctors, a personnel director, a publisher, a postal worker and a journalist together. The reality of an Everest expedition is this - once you’re at altitude and the shit hits the fan. . .

“You might as well be on the moon.”

And with the price being one that the wealthy can easily afford (or that the middle-class can save a lifetime for in order to achieve the biggest bucketlist item out there), Mt. Everest doesn’t even have to throw the curveball of bad weather. This . . . .



is often times the kiss of death. With the summit visable from this vantage point, climbers are nearly impossible to turn around – leading to a greater chance of hypothermia, frostbite, not making the descent before dark, running out of oxygen, etc. In my opinion, it should cost a million dollars per person to climb Everest. That would be enough money for clean-up and deter the wannabe super(wo)men from attempting the climb. Because seriously, while this book was fascinating in a “watching a trainwreck” type of way – it should have served as Exhibit A of why massive changes in the rules/regulations regarding Everest needs to happen.

Recommended to anyone who likes to experience adventure and defy death from the safety of their reading chair. My only advice is to familiarize yourself with the specific locations which are continually talked about with respect to the Everest climb. Places like the Lhotse Face, Khumbu Icefall or the Hillary Step. It’s easy to forget the danger that is the Khumbu Icefall if you don’t know that this is what it looks like . . .


...more
4

Nov 02, 2010

Into Thin Air or Injustice (of many kinds) on the Mountain.

Until almost the end this book was exactly as I expected it to be with just one exception. It was the story of a journalist climbing Mount Everest both as a journalist and as a mountaineer. Ideal getting paid to do your hobby! It was interesting because Krakauer is a damn good writer and because its fascinating to see the details of how the mountain is climbed. Its also disappointing because few individuals do it by themselves, without a Into Thin Air or Injustice (of many kinds) on the Mountain.

Until almost the end this book was exactly as I expected it to be with just one exception. It was the story of a journalist climbing Mount Everest both as a journalist and as a mountaineer. Ideal getting paid to do your hobby! It was interesting because Krakauer is a damn good writer and because its fascinating to see the details of how the mountain is climbed. Its also disappointing because few individuals do it by themselves, without a major support, like the guy who bicycled all the way around Europe to Nepal and then climbed the mountain alone (I would have liked to have read his story but it was only alluded to in the book). For everyone else its a package tour for the fit and not-necessarily experienced who want to climb Everest and have an awful lot of spare cash. Transport is arranged, tents are set up, luggage is carried, there will be steaming hot tea awaiting the climbers on their return to their tents after an expedition, and if they really can't climb well, they can be short-roped and pulled up. Short-roped is the climber roping themselves with a less-than-one-metre rope to the waist of the would-be-climber and literally hauling them up.

Still, even with all this portering and pampering I was surprised that the first climbers of the season (using last year's ropes) fitted ropes up Everest so that the climbers didn't have to set their own. More than that, the really difficult bits got ladders installed! But no matter how many shortcuts and easements they are able to achieve there are two things that can neither be predicted nor controlled. One is altitude sickness which in some forms can kill very quickly, and in others causes mental delusions that led one of the team to his death. And the other is the weather. 15 climbers died the year Krakauer climbed.

At the beginning of this review, I mentioned there was one exception to my expectations for this book based on several books I have read by this author. The exception was one extraordinary chapter full of the most vituperative nastiness against a socialite climber. I didn't know why it was there. He didn't get any nicer towards her as the book progressed either, but then he said that when he was writing the book he had a 75 minute phone conversation with her. Either she didn't know what he'd written - I would never bother wasting time on someone who had that little respect for me and intended to tell the world - or he didn't write it until after the phone conversation. My only reaction to the chapter was thinking that the author was such a damn bitch.

The last chapter was tremendously interesting. Krakauer had not had much respect for another of the climbers - the guide and tour leader Anatoli Boukreev. He felt that Boukreev was more fulfilling his own ambitions of climbing than in sticking to his job of helping others to climb and looking after their safety. Boukreev wrote his own book saying that Krakauer had not mentioned certain incidents somewhat detrimental to himself and that he had made some observational errors, either through oxygen deprivation or wilfullness, and gave his own version of the climb. This argy-bargy went back and forth in print and on tv, and this chapter is Krakauer defending himself. Sadly Boukreev, a climber par excellence, was buried under an avalanche on Annapurna the following year, in 1997, so we will never get to hear what he thought of Krakauer's defence.

The book is worth reading because the Sherpas have always been sidelined in stories of climbing Everest. As if it is somehow more praiseworthy for a White man to climb the mountain and its nothing really for the Sherpas who can just hop up and down like monkeys carrying all the loads while the white man Climbs. This book sets the record straight. The mountain could not be the business it is without the Sherpas. The tour companies and guides have enormous respect for these men and their abilities and form as firm friendships with them as they do with anyone else in their lives. Its a shame that this respect doesn't extend to paying them more than the one-tenth they earn compared to the tour guides but of course its justified in the traditional way - this is local wages, this is a lot of money for the locals, the locals don't need the things the guides from America, Australia etc do... Oh YAWN, I've heard it all before. Why can't people just put their money where their mouth is. You can't pay bills and put your kids through school on respect. Reduced by 1-star to four stars because of this. ...more
5

Jan 07, 2018

Utterly harrowing and propulsive. I could not put this book down. This is another book that details people's misguided quests to conquer nature--to see nature as something to be conquered. It's also another great cold-weather read, to make you realize that, really, it's not so cold out after all.
3

Nov 18, 2017

This book suddenly became very relevant - no less than TEN climbers have died this week (18-25 May 2019) on Everest. The reason for this horrible turn of events is given as inexperienced guides leading inexperienced climbers combined with the usual weather restrictions leading to these ghastly insane queueing situations :



Yes, that's the top of the highest mountain in the world.

Anyway, original review follows :

*********************************************************

TEENAGE HAIR-KISSING BOOK This book suddenly became very relevant - no less than TEN climbers have died this week (18-25 May 2019) on Everest. The reason for this horrible turn of events is given as inexperienced guides leading inexperienced climbers combined with the usual weather restrictions leading to these ghastly insane queueing situations :



Yes, that's the top of the highest mountain in the world.

Anyway, original review follows :

*********************************************************

TEENAGE HAIR-KISSING BOOK DEFACERS

This is the most defaced book I ever read. It must have been used in a school at one point. Up to page 69 there are two different people highlighting passages in pink and green but then in the margins, suddenly there is this:

Katie is Eric’s fave, to bad for him, he is silly, I hope he’s a good kisser

And then on page 77, which otherwise would be blank:

This is the most boring book I have ever read, I swear if anyone read this book by choice they are the biggest idiot in the world
Jason is such a dork
Jonathan has been a fag lately
I HATE THIS BOOK
It will be funny when you ask Jason if he kisses our/your hair. Ask is he kisses your hair, then if he kisses anyone elses hair
Always Spicy

On page 88, in a different hand, we read

Eric Conner, Feb 24 2000 he asked me out

And on page 107:

Troy is hot! (but I never said that!)

And her friend writes:

We should go to the movies, you, me, Troy & Eric coz they’re friends & Troy’s hot, so you could have “fun”

Okay, I will spare you the rest. There’s a poignant contrast between this dreamy teen hair-kissing and the terror-stricken narrative that Jon Krakauer patiently lays down here. It’s clear that the teenagers just didn’t connect to the story, and in some ways I can see why. In an attempt to be scrupulously correct, JK almost turns the events which killed eight people on Everest on 10-11 May 1996 into a stolid police report.

THE GULF OF COMPREHENSION BETWEEN MOUNTAINEERS AND NORMAL PEOPLE

Mountaineers voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way, spend loads of money on their own obsessive self-centred dreams and then expect to be congratulated by the rest of us for their feats. Lugging your mortal flesh into very high altitudes is madness.

There was no forgetting that we were more than three miles above sea level. Walking left me wheezing for several minutes. If I sat up too quickly, my head reeled and vertigo set in. The deep rasping cough I’d developed worsened by the day. Sleep became elusive. Most nights I’d wake up three or four times gasping for breath, feeling like I was suffocating. Cuts and scrapes refused to heal. My appetite vanished… my arms and legs gradually began to wither to sticklike proportions.

This was at 16,200 feet. The summit of Everest is 29,000 feet. The further you go up, the more likely you are to get HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema), where you froth blood, lapse into a coma and die) or HACE (High altitude cerebral edema), where you become deranged, lapse into a coma and die. Krakauer is also keen to deny that mountaineers are adrenalin junkies. We lubbers may imagine that when they get to the summit they experience some great euphoria. Not at all, he says. Getting up a mountain is grinding your way through great pain in the knowledge that getting back down from the summit is more dangerous than getting up to it. Mountaineering does not sound like a healthy outdoor pursuit to me.

THE MOUNTAINEERING CLASS SYSTEM

Climbing the big mountains like Everest is very dangerous, but it’s popular. A lot of ridiculous rich white people want to do it. So they join guided expeditions. On an Everest expedition there are three classes of people.

The guides – these are the white expert mountaineers who organise everything and guarantee client safety

The clients – these are the rich white people who have nothing better to do. We know they are rich because it costs an arm and a leg to be a member of an Everest expedition

The Sherpas – these are the Nepalese guys who do the actual manual labour of lugging all the rich white people’s food and essentials from base camp to camp 2 to camp 3 to camp 4 and back again along with making sure the white people don’t kill themselves in the fifty different ways available to them.

Sherpas put in the route, set up the camps, did the cooking, hauled all the loads. This conserved our energy and vastly increased our chances of getting up Everest.

This enforced client passivity earns these guided expeditions great contempt in other more radical mountaineering circles. That’s not really climbing a mountain at all, they say. These rich clients have no mountaineering skills themselves. It’s like herding rich white sheep. And some of the haughty sneerers also say that using oxygen tanks is cheating too. They say that you can only say you’ve climbed Everest if you do it without Sherpas and without oxygen. And guess what, some of these hard core guys have gone right ahead and climbed Everest without Sherpas and without oxygen, and when they got to the top they looked down on everyone else, you can bet your life.

THE TURN ROUND TIME

Into Thin Air is sometimes flawed by not explaining important concepts clearly enough for us non-climbers. One crucial concept was the TURN ROUND TIME. This was a big part of why eight people died and it took me a while to work out why. On the day your team is going to reach the summit the guide will announce a turn round time, usually 2 pm. This means that wherever the client is, they must turn round and begin descending at that time, even if they haven’t reached the summit yet. They might be only 30 minutes away but they must turn round and start descending. How ultimately frustrating!

There were several companies guiding clients to the summit on 10 May 1996 and one of them was new and very keen to get all of its clients to the summit. So keen that they allowed some stragglers to continue to the summit up to 4pm that day. According to JK, this contributed to some clients getting swallowed up in the sudden blizzard that hit the summit in the afternoon. No one saw it coming.

But there was a whole tangle of wrong decisions that day, including some made by JK himself. It’s a complicated picture, but to complicate it further, at least one other book has been published slagging off the conclusions and accusations made by JK in this book.

So, a self-inflicted confused disaster, many of the details of which are disputed. At the end of it all I was more convinced than ever that I will never, ever understand the motivations of many of my fellow human beings ...more
4

Apr 20, 2017

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of non-fiction. I prefer to listen to podcasts or interviews, rather than read straight-up non-fiction about a certain topic. And as someone who isn't particularly interested in climbing or sports in general, this wouldn't be a book that I'd normally read. But I'm so glad that I did.

It definitely reads more like a memoir, since the author was present for the events of the story. That made it a much more palatable read for me, rather than a I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of non-fiction. I prefer to listen to podcasts or interviews, rather than read straight-up non-fiction about a certain topic. And as someone who isn't particularly interested in climbing or sports in general, this wouldn't be a book that I'd normally read. But I'm so glad that I did.

It definitely reads more like a memoir, since the author was present for the events of the story. That made it a much more palatable read for me, rather than a book about an event where the author does all the research but has no first-hand experience of the thing. However, after having read this I would definitely read anything else Krakauer has written or writes because he is such an amazing storyteller.

I was never bored reading this book. He blends history and personal accounts into a gripping, harrowing, horrifying, fascinating story. It's truly awful, but I couldn't put it down. I'm not sure how I particularly feel about being so interested in reading about a tragedy like this, but I also think it opened my eyes to SO many new things that there is definitely merit to the story. On top of that, I can only imagine it was a story Krakauer felt he had to tell after having lived through it. I will definitely be recommending this book to friends and suggesting it to people who, like me, are hesitant to pick up non-fiction books that aren't memoir. ...more
4

Jan 16, 2018

What a read to start 2018! I enjoyed the majority of this, and I'll admit I fell down a bit of a black hole when it came to the controversy behind Krakauer's perspective. Review will be up tomorrow! :)
5

May 18, 2018

I absolutely loved this!! I had a feeling that I would due to my personal experience hiking and climbing in the Pacific Northwest region.

"Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?"
This question was asked of George Leigh Mallory, a Himalayan mountain climber in 1921.
And his answer was,
"Because it’s there."

This might not make sense to someone who’s not into this sport or adventure, but to me, I get it.
Why do I test myself on grueling 4500’ elevation hikes or scrambles?

Well, to get to the top!
To I absolutely loved this!! I had a feeling that I would due to my personal experience hiking and climbing in the Pacific Northwest region.

"Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?"
This question was asked of George Leigh Mallory, a Himalayan mountain climber in 1921.
And his answer was,
"Because it’s there."

This might not make sense to someone who’s not into this sport or adventure, but to me, I get it.
Why do I test myself on grueling 4500’ elevation hikes or scrambles?

Well, to get to the top!
To challenge myself physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally to push myself up that trail. The scenery is beautiful, takes your breath away and you just can't beat it. I’ve had some of my happiest moments lost in the woods, so to speak. I do realize it's not for everyone but I tend to understand why the climbers in this book wanted to climb Mt. Everest. It gets into your blood and yeah, you get addicted to it.
Especially when you get to the top!! It's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and I'm sure marathon runners get this same high.

My husband is also a hiker and climber. He has been on my case to read this book for years and I’m finally glad I did!

Jon Krakauer did an excellent job writing this book. I can’t imagine it was easy to write about your own personal experience in regards to the Mt. Everest disaster. He seemed to ask himself in the book if he could have done more and blamed himself for misunderstood memories. I can’t imagine what the lack of oxygen does to a person since I’ve never experienced this phenomenon. Because of his undeniable credibility in the account of this tragedy, I’m more inclined to believe his version of the climb on May 10th, 1996.

I know other accounts are out of there such as Anatoli Boukreev's book, The Climb. It's in response to Krakauer's book.
I'll try to get to other books one day about this tragedy.

Will I plan to read more books by Krakauer?!
Hell yes I will! It's due to the fact that I’m not a non-fiction fan and this was damn good!! ...more
5

Apr 15, 2013

Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it- mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn’t of course.

But it is the way this reads, as Jon Krakauer, a client of Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it- mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn’t of course.

But it is the way this reads, as Jon Krakauer, a client of Rob Hall’s, Adventure Consultants Guided Expedition, takes us step by brutal step up that mountain, in the spring of 1996. And back down again! Clearly the account of an anguished man desperately trying to make sense of it all, by telling it all. Not an easy task.

The Everest climb had rocked my life to its core, and it became desperately important for me to record the events in complete detail. The staggering unreliability of the human mind at high altitude made the research problematic. To avoid relying excessively on my own perceptions, I interviewed most of the protagonists at great length and on multiple occasions. When possible I also corroborated details with radio logs maintained by people at base camp, where clear thought wasn’t in such short supply.

Chances are I would not have read this were it not for my daughter’s unbridled enthusiasm in discussing it one Saturday morning when I was over for coffee. When I left that day Into Thin Air left with me. Hands down the greatest adventure, survivor story I have ever read. How could it not be? The author's visceral honesty in portraying his own part in this tragedy, took my breath away and lends undeniable,crediblity to this account.

The plain truth is that I knew better but went to Everest anyway. And in doing so I was party to the death of good people, which is something that is apt to remain on my conscience for a very long time.
...more
0

Dec 21, 2012

I can't even imagine how Jon Krakauer was able to write this story which came out
in 2007, just one year after the deadly expedition in May 1996....where nine climbers
were killed on Mount Everest.

Krakauer is an astonishing journalist, and writer. His telling 'this' story was particularly
compelling being an experienced climber himself. He was physically there when the tragedy took place.

"Descending from Camp Four after the storm, at 25,000 feet, Krakauer turned to look back
at the upper I can't even imagine how Jon Krakauer was able to write this story which came out
in 2007, just one year after the deadly expedition in May 1996....where nine climbers
were killed on Mount Everest.

Krakauer is an astonishing journalist, and writer. His telling 'this' story was particularly
compelling being an experienced climber himself. He was physically there when the tragedy took place.

"Descending from Camp Four after the storm, at 25,000 feet, Krakauer turned to look back
at the upper reaches of the peak, where his friends, Hall, Harris, Hansen, and Fischer
has lost their lives. Nimba had perished on the South Col, just twenty minutes from shelter".

In the author's notes at the end of the book, Krakauer mentions an article he wrote for
'Outside', which angered several of the people and hurt the friends and relatives of some Everest victims.
He says, "My intent in the magazine piece, and to even a greater degree in this book, was
to tell what happened on the mountain as accurately as honestly as possible, and to
do it in a sensitive and respectful manner".

This book is not about blame - but about understanding what happened. Krakauer
admits his own mistakes and points out mistakes of others. For example - much is
mentioned of Anatoli Boukreev's actions on the mountain. (senior guide- the only climber who had climbed Mt. Everest previously). Krakauer praises numerous of his heroic actions.
He also mentions real concerns he had of guided ascents up Everest, the use of oxygen
by guides, the inexperience of people who paid $65, 000 each to be
escorted to the world's highest peak.

I said in my first sentence - yeah I couldn't imagine how Jon Krakauer wrote this book,
when he himself was in the midst of a traumatic experience. With feelings of
guilt, he went back to interview other survivors to get the truth ---
BUT.... What I CAN imagine is the rip-roar there must have been when this book first came out.
Ugly attacks of blaming- judging- ( negative attacks on Krakauer -- self serving money gambit), and a lot of egos thinking they know "more to the story"...
People like to blame.....and it's a shame!!

This a tragic story -- real human beings did the best they could in unexpected circumstances.

Jon Krakauer did a remarkable job writing this book --- and I'm glad he did.


...more
5

Sep 12, 2012

I call attention to Paul Bryant's entertaining review of this book:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Which itself calls attention to the several people who have died on Everest in the past WEEK, not dissuaded by this story, obviously, which every climber knows well in multiple versions. This is the thing about risk-takers, death-defiers, mountain climbers, they must do what they must do.

I love this book. I listened to it on a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans on my spring break, 2004. I call attention to Paul Bryant's entertaining review of this book:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Which itself calls attention to the several people who have died on Everest in the past WEEK, not dissuaded by this story, obviously, which every climber knows well in multiple versions. This is the thing about risk-takers, death-defiers, mountain climbers, they must do what they must do.

I love this book. I listened to it on a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans on my spring break, 2004. It's funny, because spring break for northerners is often about heading south to warmth, and all I remember about the driving part of this trip south was climbing freezing cold and oxygen-starved Mount Everest as this incredibly gripping tragedy took place there. I was THERE, on that mountain. You know, some nights I get up for whatever reason in the night and I can't see anything, proceeding from my bed to the hallway and skirting the edge of the stairs on the way to pee or to soothe some nightmare-ridden kid, and I recall what some unfortunate climber did in a blinding snowstorm, unable to see, trying to make it back to his tent but plummeting off the edge of a cliff and down hundreds of feet--or was it thousands?--to his death. I never fall down the stairs. Not yet, not so far, anyway. But I always think of this book, in horror.

Beautifully told by Krakauer, though it became as these accounts sometimes will somewhat controversial in that some people disagree with how he characterized some of the more sensitive aspects of the events. In later editions he includes other views of some of the disputed events, other interpretations, which I think is cool. But a great book stays with you and this one stays with me. And I read very few books like this, though after that I read other books by him including Into The Wild. ...more
5

Nov 29, 2015

***NO SPOILERS***

May 10, 1996 was a very, very bad day to be climbing to “the roof of the world.” On that day, journalist and avid mountain climber Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest with a group as part of a guided expedition. He was on assignment for “Outside” magazine and was one of the few in his group to survive this expedition after a ferocious storm hit out of the blue. Into Thin Air is as much a meticulous detailing of this tragedy as it is a personal catharsis: “ . . . what ***NO SPOILERS***

May 10, 1996 was a very, very bad day to be climbing to “the roof of the world.” On that day, journalist and avid mountain climber Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest with a group as part of a guided expedition. He was on assignment for “Outside” magazine and was one of the few in his group to survive this expedition after a ferocious storm hit out of the blue. Into Thin Air is as much a meticulous detailing of this tragedy as it is a personal catharsis: “ . . . what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life.”

For those who know little to nothing about climbing Mt. Everest (or mountain climbing in general) Into Thin Air is a good place to start. There’s a lot that’s covered, and Krakauer’s a very well-organized writer who didn’t skimp on the details necessary to bring to life the reality of high-altitude climbing. It’s pretty grim, at best: Mt. Everest climbers are guaranteed to encounter plenty of corpses on their journey to the summit (there are now more than 235 on the mountain); they must travel across crevasses via metal ladders; and they’ll struggle for breath more and more the higher they climb. The harshest reality? That one in ten dies. This climb could be ultimate adventure or agonizing death. Krakauer explained all this in a highly engaging, vivid manner. At no time is any of this dry, and even for those who aren’t outdoors types, Into Thin Air will prove compelling.

Something Krakauer made clear early on is how very crucial adequate acclimatization is. No climber arrives at the foot of the mountain and just starts climbing. Climbing is done in a series of organized phases, with climbers climbing to and resting for a few days at a series of five camps located at increasing altitudes on the mountain.

He also gave lots of attention to the growing commercialization of climbing Mt. Everest, and it’s fascinating to read about. This awe-inspiring mountain may be a natural wonder, but access to it is far from free. Anyone who wishes to climb it must fork over tens of thousands of dollars, and most climb as part of guided expeditions.

Though Krakauer is a journalist, his style is never unfeeling or distant. Intermingled with climbing facts and thorough portraits of the other climbers on the mountain are his own musings, fears, and personal admissions. A few times he wondered whether he was being snobby in his judgments of the others in his group; he described crushing, altitude-induced headaches so excruciating that even moving his eyeballs hurt; he struggled greatly with survivor’s guilt after so many of his new friends died hideous deaths. At one point, thinking about a missing friend that he’d spent an hour searching for in vain: “I fell to my knees with dry heaves, retching over and over as the icy wind blasted against my back.”

Krakauer was so forthright and unafraid to share his lowest moments and the feelings of guilt that consumed him that I also felt that anguish. There’s simply no way not to empathize with him. To my disbelief, some critics have called Krakauer “cowardly” and “selfish.” I can only wonder exactly how much better they'd behave under the same horrendous circumstances.

On the surface, Into Thin Air is a story about mountain climbing and tragedy, but deep down it’s an emotional survival story. It has a universal resonance. All lovers of nonfiction--outdoorsy or not--will want to read this. ...more
4

Sep 03, 2019

Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster is a 1997 bestselling non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. It details Krakauer's experience in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a storm. Krakauer's expedition was led by guide Rob Hall. Other groups were trying to summit on the same day, including one led by Scott Fischer, whose guiding agency, Mountain Madness, was perceived as a Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster is a 1997 bestselling non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. It details Krakauer's experience in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a storm. Krakauer's expedition was led by guide Rob Hall. Other groups were trying to summit on the same day, including one led by Scott Fischer, whose guiding agency, Mountain Madness, was perceived as a competitor to Hall's agency, Adventure Consultants.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه سپتامبر سال 2010 میلادی
عنوان: در هوای رقیق؛ نویسنده: جان کراکائور؛ مترجم: یحیی خوئی؛ تهران: چشمه‏‫، ‏‫1387؛ در 355 ص؛ مصر، نقشه، شابک: 9789643624897؛ موضوع: داستان گروه‌های کوهنوردی - اورست از نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20 م

بسوی هوای رقیق: برداشتی شخصی از فاجعه کوه اورست یا در هوای رقیق، یکی از پرفروش‌ترین آثار غیرداستانی سال 1997 میلادی و به قلم «جان کراکائر» است. این کتاب جزئیات حضور نویسنده در کوه اورست در خلال فاجعه ی سال 1996 میلادی کوه اورست را به تصویر کشیده‌ است؛ جاییکه هشت کوهنورد جان باختند و بسیاری دیگر، در طوفانی سخت، گرفتار آمدند. اردویی که نویسنده در آن به سر می‌برد، به رهبری «راب هال» پیش می‌رفت، در حالیکه گروه‌های دیگری نیز، در همان روز، می‌خواستند قله را فتح کنند. یکی از این گروه‌ها، «جنون کوه» به رهبری «اسکات فیشر» بود که با گروه راب، «مشاوران ماجراجویی» رقیب به حساب می‌آمد. در سال 1997 میلادی اقتباسی سینمایی از این کتاب با عنوان «در هوای رقیق: مرگ در اورست» به کارگردانی «رابرت مارکویتز» ساخته شد. فیلم دیگری هم در مورد این فاجعه در سال 2015 میلادی با عنوان «اورست» ساخته شد که به ادعای کارگردان، «بالتاسار کورماکو»ر این کتاب تنها منبع آن نبوده‌ و منابع دیگری نیز داشته است. ا. شربیانی ...more
4

Nov 16, 2019

Until 2014, one of the trail markers for mountaineers climbing the Everest on the main Northeast ridge route was "Green Boots", the corpse of a man wearing, well, green climbing boots - yes, a dead man was an Everest landmark, and people passed him by and photographed him (I will certainly not provide links). Most likely, it was the body of Head Constable Tsewang Paljor of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police who was part of an expedition that happened in the background of the 1996 Mount Everest Until 2014, one of the trail markers for mountaineers climbing the Everest on the main Northeast ridge route was "Green Boots", the corpse of a man wearing, well, green climbing boots - yes, a dead man was an Everest landmark, and people passed him by and photographed him (I will certainly not provide links). Most likely, it was the body of Head Constable Tsewang Paljor of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police who was part of an expedition that happened in the background of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, which is the main topic of Krakauer's book. While the corpse is not at that specific place anymore, Mr. Paljor's body is presumably still somewhere up there, but no one can say with certainty - what is certain though is that the cynicism and sensationalism that "Green Boots'" treatment illustrates is very telling and that the impulses behind it are an underlying theme of "Into Thin Air".

American journalist and mountaineer Jon Krakauer was part of an expedition that aimed to summit Mount Everest in May 1996, the same day as several other groups of climbers. Due to a series of unfortunate events, wrong decisions and an upcoming storm, eight mountaineers died and several got severely injured and almost froze to death. While Krakauer's account of the unfolding tragedy is certainly intriguing, the psychological dimension is what fascinated me: Why are people deciding to summit Everest, and what are the moral implications? Krakauer talks about motivational factors like a love of nature and a longing for adventure, but also vanity, the impulse to challenge oneself and the wish to stand out, all characteristics represented by members of the expeditions. Some mountaineers are unable or unwilling to question their own abilities, thus threatening the lives of other climbers and the sherpas who often risk everything for their rich clients in order to be able to feed their families. (After an ice avalanche killed 16 sherpas in 2014, the sherpas went on strike to push for better working conditions.)

The commercialization of Everest is an important topic in the book: The heads of the expeditions aim to guide as many participants to the summit as possible - they assume that especially Krakauer, the reporter, and Sandy Pittmann, the society girl, will generate publicity when they get home to tell their stories. Commercial expeditions are a competitive business, and clients who pay tens of thousands of dollars to take on Everest are very motivated to make it to the top - and this tunnel vision is potentially deadly for everyone involved. On the highest mountain of the world, the lack of humility can be a death sentence.

Since Krakauer wrote this book (it was published in 1997), these tendencies have become more and more extreme. John Oliver did a fantastic episode entitled "Everest" which talks about the current state of affairs. More and more inexperienced climbers join commercial expeditions, and now there is a also a serious problem with garbage and feces in the Himalaya. The sherpas' job becomes more and more dangerous, which is not exactly widely discussed as the rich white dilettantes want to tell heroic stories about their fearless ascent to the summit while showing numerous selfies. Oliver offers an alternative which is safer for everybody: https://www.thetopofmounteverest.com

And still, I understand the urge to explore, to see and experience new environments and extreme situations, to travel to remote, beautiful, dangerous places, to try and find out how far you can go. Parts of Krakauer's book reminded me of T.C. Boyle's novel Water Music about Scottish explorer Mungo Park who was obsessed by his wish to explore West Africa - and paid a high price. In a way, Krakauer and Boyle talk about rather universal human aspirations, about the Faustian impulse to know and conquer - this disruptive impulse can be beautiful or terrible. ...more
4

Dec 11, 2014

This book was well told. At times I felt oxygen deprived and often this made me unaware of tragedy. I am not a huge fan of non-fiction but this is worth a read.
5

Jun 23, 2015

Does your dream holiday involve spending north of fifty grand to risk a fatal aneurysm, walk past the dead bodies of weaker adventurers who’ve come before you and possibly lose your fingers, toes and nose, if not your life? If so, then step right up to climb Mount Everest!

Seriously though, If you’ve ever thought you might like to climb Everest, read this book. If you still want to attempt the highest mountain in the world after finishing Into Thin Air, you are a braver person than I.

This is a Does your dream holiday involve spending north of fifty grand to risk a fatal aneurysm, walk past the dead bodies of weaker adventurers who’ve come before you and possibly lose your fingers, toes and nose, if not your life? If so, then step right up to climb Mount Everest!

Seriously though, If you’ve ever thought you might like to climb Everest, read this book. If you still want to attempt the highest mountain in the world after finishing Into Thin Air, you are a braver person than I.

This is a masterful account of an adventure-turned-disaster that cost the lives of eight people, and scarred (both physically and psychologically) the lucky survivors.

If you've read Joe Simpson’s Touching The Void you have some understanding of the horrors of mountaineering gone wrong. Into Thin Air similarly deals with a climbing catastrophe but with the horrifying struggle consuming an entire group of climbers instead of a lone individual.

Jon Krakauer, a seasoned mountaineer, joined a 1996 expedition to Everest with experienced guides who had reached the mountaintop on numerous occasions with previous groups.

You would think that only the best of the best attempt Everest. The toughest, fittest, most experienced mountain-crazy hardasses out there. Alas, you would be wrong. As Krakauer details, the guides that led people up the mountain often weren’t as picky as they should have been, as theirs is a business like any other, and a need for customers led to many expeditions shepherding weaker sheep up the perilous slopes of the Himalayas.

What follows is a sad tale of bad luck, bad judgement, and many, many massive screw-ups that lead to eight people dying awful deaths in the snow after getting caught in bad weather and simply running out of strength in ‘The Death Zone’ (doesn’t that sound like a fantastic holiday location? The South of France has nothing on Everest) above 8000 meters, where even the strongest person can have unpredictable and fatal reactions to the low air pressure.

Krakauer writes with clarity and humanity, giving us a window seat to how everything goes so wrong, and both the heroism and foolishness that occurs in such trying circumstances. He doesn’t shy away from his own feelings of guilt, and the way that what happened on the upper reaches of Everest has impacted his life.

Into Thin Air is a gripping, terrifying and informative story that taught me more about mountaineering and its risks than any other book I’ve read. It’s an amazing story, both well told and memorable. Read this book, and prepare to shiver in imagined cold as you walk with Krakauer through the middle of a sub-zero high-altitude disaster.

Postscript: I read this book as I headed to Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas. Krakauer discusses in detail the effect that high altitude can have on perception, memory and the ability to focus, and when I stopped at a driveable pass on my trip that reached 5600m I experienced this firsthand. Within minutes I felt nauseous, disassociated from my surroundings, and in need of some serious sleep. How anyone dares to face the perils of altitudes above six kilometres is beyond me. ...more
4

May 09, 2008

Read within the span of 10 hours. This is not a hard read, well, if you take out the subject matter.
I picked this up because 'Into the Wild' has been out or on hold for months at the library so I thought I'd at least get a feel for Jon Krakauer's writing style.
I also have to admit that it wasn't the writing style that sold me, not that it isn't well done, but usually I'm not drawn to 'personal accounts' or non-fiction, in general, unless it is a subject that really fascinates me. I'm an Read within the span of 10 hours. This is not a hard read, well, if you take out the subject matter.
I picked this up because 'Into the Wild' has been out or on hold for months at the library so I thought I'd at least get a feel for Jon Krakauer's writing style.
I also have to admit that it wasn't the writing style that sold me, not that it isn't well done, but usually I'm not drawn to 'personal accounts' or non-fiction, in general, unless it is a subject that really fascinates me. I'm an escapist and sometimes the reality of all this seeps in and rattles me in ways I'd rather not tap into.
This is very much rubbernecking. I knew that there is no happy ending to this tale, yet I was riveted and sickened the whole way through.
I wasn't drawn so much to the feat of the climb or the determination of the climbers but more to their never ending egos and downright obsession. Their fanatical need to conquer. The fact that these people spend upwards of $65,000 to subject themselves to hypoxia, frostbite, and possible cerebral edemas just makes me shake my head and say 'what the fuck?'

Krakauer states in the first chapter that once reaching the summit, a sheet of ice at 29,028 feet above seal level, he couldn't summon the energy to care. He spent less than 5 minutes on the 'roof of the world' with absolutely no spiritual awakening to speak of.
What makes people do this? What drives them to become so consumed with the thought of scaling a mountain that's killed 1 in 4 climbers since the first summit reach in 1953?

Because it's there.

Which, on its own, I can understand, sort of. But, to get there and not feel the euphoria? That's where I become lost. This passage, in particular, floored me:

"People who don't climb mountains...tend to assume that the sport is a reckless Dionysian pursuit of ever escalating thrills.... The ratio of misery to pleasure was greater by an order of magnitude than any other mountains I'd been on. I quickly came to understand that climbing Everest was primarily about enduring pain."

The fact that the drive to reach the summit had climbers walking over corpses of their peers also is mind-numbing. To think that some of these climbers were so single-minded that they would assess a fellow climber, make the instantaneous decision that they would be nothing more than baggage and refuse to help them sends me spiraling to that survival of the fittest mentality that makes my stomach curl.
This is a freakin' Darwinian rat race.

I need to research this further, the IMAX film has been netflixed and I'm adding the K2 disaster and other stories to my reading list. What a fun summer this will be. ...more
4

Aug 04, 2018

When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be Jon merely researching and giving account of what happened on a Mount Everest hike as a journalist, not as someone who climbed the mountain. Lo and behold, he did!! Reason number #93824 why I could never be a journalist--it requires such menial tasks as, oh i don't know, CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST??!?!?!?!

That aside, this book captured me. I know very little about hiking Everest other than the documentary on Netflix, so this gave a good When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be Jon merely researching and giving account of what happened on a Mount Everest hike as a journalist, not as someone who climbed the mountain. Lo and behold, he did!! Reason number #93824 why I could never be a journalist--it requires such menial tasks as, oh i don't know, CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST??!?!?!?!

That aside, this book captured me. I know very little about hiking Everest other than the documentary on Netflix, so this gave a good overview. Because it was centered on what went wrong with the tragedy though, I think Jon's personal experience took a backseat to fleshing out the lives of everyone he climbed with, which ultimately weighed this book down for me. There was a cast of 30+ people who I honestly could not keep straight, especially not while listening to this on audio where names don't tend to stick very easily. In creating a woven narrative of each person's trek and how they would or would not end up getting off the mountain became laborious to remember and decode. The characterization wasn't stark enough for me to be able to really differentiate between any of the people.

Additionally, I liked how this book showed the physical labor and technology required to hike the mountain, but this book is now 20+ years old, and I think it would be cool to read a more recent account of what hiking Everest is like with our new technology. I think I watched a snapchat story once of somebody climbing it and their adventures everyday. It seems like it would be a totally different game than what occurred in this book.

Krakauer's writing style remains magnificent. The way he explores timelines and cause and effect was equally as meticulous. My biggest issue with this is that I just didn't feel there on the trip with him, equally from a lack of physical description and the feeling like I didn't fully understand who was who and where we were. ...more
4

Jul 15, 2014

Jon Krakauer standing on the summit of Mt. Everest.

"Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice out of my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared down into the vastness of Tibet".

You have heard the saying, "truth is stranger than fiction". In this case truth is more frightening, more compelling than fiction. This is the first hand account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest that claimed the lives of 12 mountaineers, many of Jon Krakauer standing on the summit of Mt. Everest.

"Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice out of my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared down into the vastness of Tibet".

You have heard the saying, "truth is stranger than fiction". In this case truth is more frightening, more compelling than fiction. This is the first hand account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest that claimed the lives of 12 mountaineers, many of them highly skilled and well trained professional guides. It is told by Jon Krakauer, a journalist and accomplished mountaineer in his own right. The fact that he lived to tell the story is amazing in itself. How and why it happened, who, if anybody, was to blame is a matter of debate and interpertation. The fact is, Mt. Everest is a deadly place, especially in the upper region known as the death zone, where the air is thin and brutally cold, made worse by the force of the jet stream winds. If you are caught in this region in an unexpected storm, as this group was, then your chances of getting back down, of surviving, become problematic at best. This is a story of human accomplishment, bravery, suffering, and determination. This is adventure of the highest order because it isn't fiction, this really happened. ...more
3

Jun 11, 2019

I honestly feel weird rating this because it is a personal account of a very tragic event, but this really didn't do much for me. It wasn't a bad book, but it definitely wasn't for me.
3

Sep 28, 2009

If Krakauer's intention was to kill all of our romantic ideas about mountain climbing with this book, he undoubtedly succeeded. Whatever idealistic notions of bravery, athleticism, adventure, and brotherhood I had about this "sport", are now gone forever.

What Krakauer delivers instead is a very tough picture of people who are ready to risk their lives and lives of those around them (guides, Sherpas, rescue workers) for the purpose of satisfying some masochistic macho aspirations of theirs or, If Krakauer's intention was to kill all of our romantic ideas about mountain climbing with this book, he undoubtedly succeeded. Whatever idealistic notions of bravery, athleticism, adventure, and brotherhood I had about this "sport", are now gone forever.

What Krakauer delivers instead is a very tough picture of people who are ready to risk their lives and lives of those around them (guides, Sherpas, rescue workers) for the purpose of satisfying some masochistic macho aspirations of theirs or, even worse, to get some cheap fame. I now know that there is no sportsmanship or athleticism or fitness about these trips to the top of Everest. People kill their brain cells, they freeze off their body parts, they lose eye sight, they die, all for the privilege of standing on the top of the world for a few seconds. I never understood this achievement before, I understand it even less now, knowing the costs of it. Even more, what kind of an achievement it is, if everything is done for you - Sherpas build your camps, make your food, carry your baggage (including laptops, TVs, gourmet foods, and magazines), fix ropes for you to hang on, even haul you to the top if needed?

But enough of ranting, time to talk about the book itself. I think Krakauer is a great non-fiction writer who manages to suck you into any story. Same goes for "Into Thin Air." It is a compelling book, more interesting in the latter part than in the beginning (once you pass 150-page mark, the book is virtually unputdownable). I personally would have preferred him to talk more about the trip and its difficulties rather than recounting everyone's back stories, but in the end, I have to admit, it adds certain relatability to the narrative. I also was afraid that he would spend a lot of time assigning blame to various players (including himself), but was pleased to see that he had learned from his "Outsider" article and came to the right conclusion that the Everest disaster was nobody's fault.

Overall, a very interesting and in many ways eye-opening story, which in spite of being beyond my scope of interest, managed to hold my attention.

Reading challenge: #10 ...more

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