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

by Jon Krakauer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,164293376 (4.19)350
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)
Recently added byABQcat, jpc_lib, private library, dasfuller, mcharbel32, DanteAshton, TheGalaxyGirl, JoshuaTheoNerd, ednasilrak
Legacy LibrariesThomas C. Dent
  1. 71
    The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev (marzipanz, oregonobsessionz, coclimber, bluepiano)
    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.
    bluepiano: I may be the only reader of Krakauer's book who thought Boukreev came across as a hero in it. The Climb is a heartening reminder that experience, intelligence, and calm can be the makings of heroism, and it's quite interesting as well.
  2. 60
    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. 40
    Everest: The West Ridge 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. 40
    Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (VivienneR)
  6. 30
    K2 : Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs (Grandeplease)
  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
    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.
  9. 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.
  10. 20
    The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann (g33kgrrl)
  11. 20
    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (sturlington)
  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. 10
    Annapurna by Maurice Herzog (Sandydog1)
  14. 10
    Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: Both stories of mountaineering adventures gone terribly, terribly wrong.
  15. 10
    Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey by Göran Kropp (Navarone)
  16. 10
    The Kid Who Climbed Everest: The Incredible Story of a 23-Year-Old's Summit of Mt. Everest by Bear Grylls (FireandIce)
  17. 10
    The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Sławomir Rawicz (sombrio)
  18. 10
    The Other Side of Everest: Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm by Matt Dickinson (riverwillow)
  19. 00
    The Summit of the Gods, Volume 1 by Jirô Taniguchi (villemezbrown)
  20. 00
    Dead Lucky: Life after Death on Mount Everest by Lincoln Hall (RMSmithJr)

(see all 26 recommendations)

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» See also 350 mentions

English (283)  Spanish (4)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (292)
Showing 1-5 of 283 (next | show all)
Interesting read and amazing that people even want to do this climb! :) ( )
  TenkaraSmart | Jun 8, 2021 |
I recently realized I love real-life adventure tales. Memoirs of extraordinary journeys that are true tales. Into Thin Air is one such telling of a trip to climb Mt. Everest by a journalist writing about the commercialization of Himalayan adventures. Things go horribly wrong and the result is one of the worst years in history for climbers. I’ve never wanted to go to Everest (well, maybe base camp could be fun) but after reading this I feel cold just thinking about it. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
This book should have been titled 100 Horrible Ways to Die. I read this with the hope of understanding why someone would want to climb Everest, but I'm afraid it's not in my psyche to understand. So many wasted lives. ( )
  Iudita | May 18, 2021 |
Wow, this is one of the greatest books about mountaineering I ever read. The author manages to pack so many details about climbing and all the people into this book, but also explains everything also for people with few or no knowledge about the topic. And even if there are so many background stories and details, it's always exciting to read and don't get boring.
The only thing is, that it's sometimes hard to follow with all the different names, but a big Nameregister and some photos help a lot.
Great book, and a big recommendation for everyone interested in mountains. It's great to have a big story like this written by an author who know his job. ( )
  TofuBuchling | Apr 14, 2021 |
This book is Krakauer's well received account into the 1996 everest disaster. I know quite a lot about the disaster as I have read about it quite widely but had avoided Into Thin Air thus far. I had read that Krakaeur treated climber Anatoli Boukreev unfairly in the book when I read The Climb and this put me off of reading Into Thin Air. I finally decided to give it a shot and I'm so glad I did as this book really lives up to it's reputation. Krakauer climbed a fair bit when he was younger but his career as a journalist had taken him away from his hobby. He wanted to write about the growing commercialisation of Everest expeditions and was commissioned to do so by a magazine. One thing lead to another and the magazine bought a place for him on the best expedition companiy at the time, Adventure Consultants lead by Rob Hall. By the time the expedition was over, 12 people had died including very expedition leaders and experienced climbers, Rob Hall and Scott Fisher. The book looks into Krakauer's personal experience of climbing Everest and tries to piece togther what actually happened with the benefit of speaking to others involved after the event.

Krakauer is a very good writer and that alone had earned the book 4 stars from me. Where he earns the 5th star is in the final section of the book where he reveals the negative correspondence he got following the publication of the article he wrote. He has been accused of not helping and in fact ignoring those in peril amongst other things. At this point I think most writers would have ignored this correspondence or chose to defend their position but Krakauer does neither. He presents it as what it is, a different opinion on what happened and leaves it as that for the reader to decide. Having read this book, my opinion on him with regards to the event has changed, and although I still think he is a little harsh on Boukreev I don't begrudge his opinion even if I disagree with it. ( )
  Brian. | Apr 9, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 283 (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 (11 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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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
First words
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.
Quotations
Getting to the top of any given mountain was considered much less important than how one got there: prestige was earned by tackling the most unforgiving routes with minimal equipment, in the boldest style imaginable. John Krakauer
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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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.

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