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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt.…

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (1997)

by Jon Krakauer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,637220299 (4.18)257
  1. 71
    The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev (marzipanz, oregonobsessionz, coclimber)
    marzipanz: It may seem like an obvious recommendation, but I would really urge everybody to read The Climb instead of or in addition to Into Thin Air. It really sheds a completely new light on some of what Krakauer writes, and - to me - seemed a far more convincing account of some of the events.… (more)
    oregonobsessionz: While The Climb is not an easy read like Into Thin Air, it does provide a different perspective on the disaster, and answers some of Krakauer's criticisms of Boukreev's actions.
  2. 40
    The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea by Sebastian Junger (kraaivrouw)
  3. 40
    Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers (riverwillow)
  4. 30
    Everest the West Ridge: 50th Anniversary Edition by Thomas F. Hornbein (BookWallah)
    BookWallah: If you liked Into Thin Air, then you are ready for the mountaineering classic, Everest: The West Ridge. This sparse first person account of the other American team that came after Whitaker in 1963 and put up a route that has seldom been repeated.
  5. 30
    Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (VivienneR)
  6. 20
    Shadow divers : the true adventure of two Americans who risked everything to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson (alaskabookworm)
    alaskabookworm: Couldn't put "Shadow Divers" down; one of my favorite nonfiction adventure books of all time.
  7. 20
    Blind Descent: the Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth by James M. Tabor (PamFamilyLibrary)
    PamFamilyLibrary: Who would guess, but going down into the Super Caves is as dangerous as going up K2 or Everest.
  8. 20
    Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains by Jon Krakauer (fichtennadel, Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: If you want some background on "what makes Krakauer tick", do check out his earlier stories.
  9. 20
    K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs (Grandeplease)
  10. 10
    The Other Side of Everest: Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm by Matt Dickinson (riverwillow)
  11. 10
    The Kid Who Climbed Everest: The Incredible Story of a 23-Year-Old's Summit of Mt. Everest by Bear Grylls (FireandIce)
  12. 10
    Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season by Nick Heil (normandie_m)
    normandie_m: The events in this book re-opened discussion of the controversies surrounding the 1996 disaster. Heil examines similar themes, particularly the ethical dilemma of whether or not to offer assistance to/rescuing sick climbers when one's own health and supplies such as oxygen are depleted.… (more)
  13. 00
    Göran Kropp : [8000 ] by Göran Kropp (Navarone)
  14. 00
    Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both are about the ascent to the top of Mount Everest - one is historical fiction; the other is non-fiction,
  15. 00
    The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz (sombrio)
  16. 00
    Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches by Jill Fredston (alaskabookworm)
  17. 00
    Dead Lucky: Life after Death on Mount Everest by Lincoln Hall (RMSmithJr)
  18. 00
    Climbing High: A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy by Lene Gammelgaard (cjoats)
  19. 00
    No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 by Graham Bowley (jan.fleming)
    jan.fleming: It's the summit of K2, 1 August 2008. An exhausted band of climbers pump their fists into the clear blue sky - joining the elite who have conquered the world's most lethal mountain. But as they celebrate, far below them an ice shelf collapses and sweeps away their ropes. They don't know it yet, but they will be forced to descend into the blackness with no lines. Of the thirty who set out, eleven will never make it back. Following the stories of climbers from around the world, "No Way Down" weaves a tale of human courage, folly, survival and devastating loss. The stories are heart-wrenching: the young married couple whose rope was torn apart by an avalanche, sending the husband to his death; the 61-year-old Frenchman who called his family from near the summit to say he wouldn't make it home. So what drove them to try to conquer this elusive peak? And what went wrong that fateful day?… (more)
  20. 00
    K2: Triumph and Tragedy by Jim Curran (Polaris-)

(see all 20 recommendations)


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» See also 257 mentions

English (214)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (220)
Showing 1-5 of 214 (next | show all)
Just listened to the book again. Old Krakauer really paints a devastating picture. In particular, I was struck by the account of climbers who summited Everest in the days following the tragedy of May 10, 1996. They are described as hiking past the bodies of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, among others; hiking past the body of Yasuko Namba, a diminutive climber who'd become famous in her native Japan for reaching all Seven Summit. These passages soon conjured a kind of iconic scene of nameless and determined hikers trudging slowly upward, past countless dead bodies and empty oxygen canisters and flattened nylon tents flapping like gunshots in the wind. It's hard not to see this scene as a metaphor for life itself; i.e., as representing life itself, the act of living on earth. It's hard not to see life as only a sort of grim, unceasing slog in harsh conditions, surrounded on all sides by the dead and dying.

The book's final lines haunt me:

"Beidleman paused. 'But I can't help thinking about Yasuko,' he said when he resumed, his voice hushed. 'She was so little. I can still feel her fingers sliding across my biceps and then letting go. I never even turned to look back.'"


One of the climbers on this ill-fated journey went blind about 1000 ft from the summit (he'd had radial-keratotomy, an early version of lasik), fell behind, his face totally covered with frost, was left for dead, and then he somehow subsequently (and still blind!) traversed a narrow cliff ledge downward into the base camp. The climbers were of course stunned to see him, but they bundled him up and put him in a tent...which then blew off of him in the night (sub-zero temperatures, howling winds) and yet he still survived. Let me tell you, when this man walked off of that mountain (he was actually rescued by helicopter once they'd descended low enough in altitude that a helicopter could mostly-safely reach them) -- when this man walked off that mountain he was like Heston in Ten Commandments when he comes down off Sinai: white hair, white beard, resonant voice, and he had heard the voice of Jehovah.

You can read the article that spawned the book here:http://outside.away.com/outside/destinations/199609/199609_into_thin_air_1.html ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
It's been a long time since I last read a book that captivated me as much as Into thin air did. A remarkable story, thought provoking in many ways, and impactful. For a long time I've had an interest in far-off places like Antarctica and Mount Everest, there's just something about these places that are so hard to reach that fascinates me - and I'm sure many others. This exact thing, reaching "the roof of the world" is probably what fuels many climbers to even attempt this journey. What I really loved about Into Thin Air is that there's of course talk of the wonders of the climb, the anticipation, and the connection many climbers have to the mountain - almost as if they're called there by the mountain itself. But more than that, Krakauer gives a truthful account of all of the less than glamorous details of the journey. The many challenges that one is met with, the many hardships and strain on one's health, the things one takes for granted that is not available thousands of feet up high, and of course the risks that comes with the climb and how difficult it is to avoid disaster when "lucid thought is all but impossible at 29,000 feet". Long story short, I was completely captivated by this story and it challenged my way of thinking of the world and of human beings, what we are capable of and the many limits to our existence as well. I highly recommend it.
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
It's been awhile since I have read an adventure book of this caliber. The snow leopard and Alive.
Very disconcerting how he jumps from first names to last names and nicknames! . I was forced to reference the rooster at the front of the book repeatedly to fully understand who was who, which group they were in and if they were guests or leaders. The cast of noted people was expansive.
I could not put this book down. I was riveted to the pages, reading as fast as I could to find out what was happening and who was going to survive!
Since it happened 20 years ago, I would love to know what has happened to the survivors and how they view Jon's book with so much time in passed. ( )
  Alphawoman | Mar 8, 2016 |
My blog post about this book is at this link. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Feb 25, 2016 |
An account of tragedy on Everest; heartfelt, detailed, controversial, and packed with real life tension. A must read. ( )
  heavydnilbett | Feb 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 214 (next | show all)
An experienced climber himself, Mr. Krakauer gives us both a tactile appreciation of the dangerous allure of mountaineering and a compelling chronicle of the bad luck, bad judgment and doomed heroism that led to the deaths of his climbing companions.
it is impossible to finish this book unmoved and impossible to forget for a moment that its author would have given anything not to have to write it.

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Krakauer, Jonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karl, AnitaMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perria, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rackliff, RandyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Men play at tragedy because they do not believe in the reality of the tragey which is actually being staged in the civilised world. —José Ortega y Gasset
For Linda; and in memory of Andy Harris, Doug Hansen, Rob Hall, Yasuko Namba, Scott Fischer, Ngawang Topche Sherpa, Chen Yu-Nana, Bruce Herrod, and Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa
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Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice from my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently down at the vastness of Tibet.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please distinguish between print editions of Jon Krakauer's 1997 memoir, Into Thin Air, and the abridged audio version. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385494785, Paperback)

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. With more than 250 black-and-white photographs taken by various expedition members and an enlightening new postscript by the author, the Illustrated Edition shows readers what this tragic climb looked like and potentially provides closure for Krakauer and his detractors.

"I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in a postscript dated August 1998. "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 a avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I. Krakauer further buries the ice axe by donating his share of royalties from sales of The Illustrated Edition to the Everest '96 Memorial Fund, which aids various environmental and humanitarian charities. --Rob McDonald

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:00 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A history of Mount Everest expedition is intertwined with the disastrous expedition the author was a part of, during which five members were killed by a hurricane-strength blizzard. When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top. No one had noticed that the sky had begun to fill with clouds. Six hours later and 3,000 feet lower, in 70-knot winds and blinding snow, Krakauer collapsed in his tent, freezing, hallucinating from exhaustion and hypoxia, but safe. The following morning he learned that six of his fellow climbers hadn't made it back to their camp and were in a desperate struggle for their lives. When the storm finally passed, five of them would be dead, and the sixth so horribly frostbitten that his right hand would have to be amputated. Krakauer examines what it is about Everest that has compelled so many people - including himself - to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense. Written with emotional clarity and supported by his unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer's eye-witness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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