[Book] Into thin air / Jon Krakauer (1997)

Immediately after I finished reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer last summer, I was left convinced that Krakauer is one of the great biographical storytellers. The yarn he spun about Chris McCandless still sticks in my memory and refuses to leave! I HAD to read more of his works, so, soon after finishing my review for Into the Wild, I decided to return to my library’s eBook portal once again and download Into Thin Air, his second offering. It’s a story I won’t soon forget.

In 1996, Krakauer was working for Outside Magazine, a publication that highlights outdoor recreation. He was sent on assignment to Mount Everest to write a piece on the over-commercialization of mountain-climbing expeditions. Evidentally, mountaineering is serious business. Companies with major sponsorship deals were popping up. People who could afford the trip got a chance to pursue a lifelong dream in a controlled and supervised environment. An experienced mountain climber, Krakauer was initially planning to climb Everest as far as base camp only; he was never to reach the summit. But, his personal desire to fulfill a lifelong dream of climbing the tallest mountain above sea level trumped all professional protocols, and he eventually convinced his editors that making it to the top would make for a good story. Little did he know that he would experience one of the most tragic events in climbing history. Into Thin Air details the fateful day when eight people lost their lives (four from Krakauer’s team) and many more were left stranded when a freak unrelenting storm blew through during the descent from Everest’s summit.

Into Thin Air is quite an immersive and suspenseful read. Krakauer’s descriptions of the majestic mountain, the crisp thin air, the crunching snow, was rich. The reader also got a look into the lives of a wide cast of mountaineering characters, including Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, duelling leaders of opposing expedition companies, whose big personalities sometimes got in the way of making sound decisions during Krakauer’s trip.

I have never been interested in pursuing the sport of climbing, and Krakauer certainly did not make it appear cool or thrilling. The endeavor is unattractive to me..and frankly a little nuts! At the same time, I can understand the appeal of perseverence that climbing affords; having a goal as hard as climbing a mountain is, how unfathomable it is to imagine reaching the summit. And then the high and satisfaction you get when ticking Mount Everest off of your bucket list.

Into Thin Air was an excellent story – I highly recommend it!

4/5

Into thin air / Jon Krakauer (1997)

Other Krakauer titles I’ve reviewed:

Into The Wild

 

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28 comments

  1. I watched a Fifth Estate program about a Canadian woman with no climbing experience that not surprising died while attempting to climb Mount Everest. She had paid a Nepalese company 40 grand and assumed she would be fine. They used inexperienced sherpas and did not give her enough oxygen. The program interviews people that had to pass her and knew she would die.
    Up there, if you stop to help someone, or give them your oxygen, you will probably die too.
    I’m with you. Zero interest in attempting that.
    I’ll stick to Mount Trashmore.

    That sounds like a good read. I will search it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Mount Trashmore. I grew up in Sudbury…on rocks! Rocks were for climbing and we did plenty of that. Climbing Everest? No fucking way. I need to BREATHE! I hate the snow and cold. Not for me!
      You should check it out, I don’t steer you wrong!

      Like

    1. Gosh, how he describes having to live in thin air…the stomach problems…the cold…screw that! What a paradox of “feeling alive” climbing the mountain while you are literally dying.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah. It’s not a great little place. The bigger library has access to music online, so likely more with the times, but I don’t fall into its ‘catchment area’.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Eiger Dreams! Yep, heard of it. I’m trying to get a copy from my library. And then there is Under the Banner of Heaven, which I have a hard copy of. I can’t get enough Jon Krakauer!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve just googled the synopsis of that book, not my usual read, but if I come across a copy for the right price would definitely give it a read! I would also recommend anything out of the boardman/tasked omnibus, if you fancy more mountain literature! I loved savage arena!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll look into it. I’ve been getting more and more into literature that sees someone going through harsh adventures. Ever since I read Mosquito Coast a few years back…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen this at work and dismissed it without really looking at it… now I wanna look more closely! I just read Seven Years In Tibet not long ago too, plenty of mountaineering in that one too… Everest has become horrible, all the garbage and bodies left behind. Typical of humans to wreck a place. Myself I’d never go near it unless it was to take pics from the ground looking up. Highest I ever climbed was to the top of Ben Lomond (above Loch Lomond) in Scotland, about 3000′. But there was a path the whole way and we did it in a relatively short time. That’s 1/10th of Everest and there was no snow, so yeah, no way Jose to something on that scale! I respect that it’s there, I don’t need to reach the top just to say I have.

    Liked by 1 person

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