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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt.…
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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (original 1997; edition 1999)

by Jon Krakauer (Author), Randy Rackliff (Illustrator), Jon Krakauer (Photographer), Daniel Rembert (Contributor), Caroline Cunningham (Contributor)1 more, Anita Karl (Contributor)

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11,787281380 (4.19)339
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)
Member:raivivek
Title:Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Authors:Jon Krakauer (Author)
Other authors:Randy Rackliff (Illustrator), Jon Krakauer (Photographer), Daniel Rembert (Contributor), Caroline Cunningham (Contributor), Anita Karl (Contributor)
Info:Anchor (1999), Edition: Reprint, 332 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read, goodreads

Work details

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

  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
    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.
  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
    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.
  10. 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)
  11. 10
    The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann (g33kgrrl)
  12. 10
    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (sturlington)
  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 Slavomir 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 339 mentions

English (271)  Spanish (4)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (280)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14812717

I don't remember where I saw the recommendation for this book but I'm glad I did.

I know nearly nothing about mountain climbing and I certainly have never aspired to it. If I had, I might have second thoughts after reading this book. It really does take a certain type of person: not just strong and capable but also willing to face death. Most sports do not require that you give your life, and of course climbers don't plan to do so, but they have to consider the risks.

Krakauer was offered the chance to climb Everest in a guided team so that he could write about the effects its growing popularity is having on the people living there - the Sherpas - as well as on the climbers themselves and the region. Krakauer, therefore, needed to be a client of a professional guide, rather than part of an independent team. He chose Rob Hall, owner of Adventure Consultants, a New Zealand-based guide company, based on his expertise and guiding record.

Krakauer is an avid climber whose wife would rather he weren't. She wants him around for her and for their children. Climbing is an obsession, though, and he seems to share it with others, particularly top climbers. He had wanted to climb Everest since he was a boy and there was little chance he could afford the high fees and expenses by himself.

Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. It is subject to wild variations in weather from the bottom to the top, as it is about five miles from sea level. Even more, the increased altitude means dangerously thin air the closer one gets to the top.

Thus most climbers and guides use oxygen in the last stages, to avoid the dangerous effects of low oxygen levels in the body. What quickly became clear to me as I read this account of a climb up Everest with a wide range of fellow clients and guides and with encounters with several different and widely varying other teams, is that climbing these super tall mountains is painful. The cold, the thin air, the tricky rocks, all take a huge toll on a body.

The details of a climb up this mountain are worth the book by themselves. I felt I got a good sense of what it was like in a way that I hadn't appreciated before. But the real story is of the expedition itself, in April and May of 1996, and of all of the factors that led to a total of twelve deaths on the mountain.

Even though I knew from the start that people died, I still worked my way through the narrative with held breath at times, as the story is well paced. Krakauer doesn't satisfy himself with relating what happened, though. He addresses the many factors contributing to the disaster, and discusses briefly what might be changed to prevent other similar occurrences. In the telling he does question the behavior of one guide in particular, a guide employed by another company, Mountain Madness. This part of the book was challenged by that guide along with his co-author, who wrote another book, disputing several of the facts laid out in Krakauer's. At the end of this edition of the book (1999 - the original was published in 1997) is a postscript explaining the conflict that arose between the authors of the two books and subsequent actions. I found this postscript revealing and gripping as well.

The story is well documented and researched. Krakauer provides context with a history of Everest and its explorers, which I found invaluable. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
I stumbled upon the tail-end of the 2015 film 'Everest' the other night on TV...and was immediately hooked. Because the expedition leader was a New Zealander, we heard all about this on the news here when it happened, and it was as horrifying then as it was reading about it. I have long held the impression that people who seek this level of risk are selfish, particularly if they have children, and, although a little of that remains after reading this book, I feel like I understand a little better how and why people would do this. But- I still cannot fathom a situation in which someone could step over a dying person with no thought of trying to offer some some sort of comfort. The callousness that high altitude, extreme exhaustion and the will to summit seems to engender in climbers leaves me cold.

That said, the account of Krakauer is beautifully, and, I thought, quite sensitively written. The dilemmas, the confusion, the utter awfulness and waste of life that the expedition faced was interlaced with history, and some philosophy as well. Certainly a cracker of a read, but one that leaves you wondering at the waste of life and the spoiling of a majestic mountain. ( )
  LovingLit | Aug 20, 2020 |
Breathtaking! Definitely a must read. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
3.25 ( )
  DanielSTJ | Jul 22, 2020 |
At times, reading this book felt rather invasive. Ostensibly it's journalist Jon Krakauer's account of what transpired in May 1996 atop Mt Everest. He had been commissioned by mountaineering magazine Outside to take part in one of the guided ascents so as to write a piece on this controversial practice of experienced climbers helping people to the top who would otherwise have no chance of reaching it. On the day his group and another guided exhibition made their bids for the summit, a storm moved in. Krakauer and a few others barely made it back from the summit to the camp they had set up, eight others from the two groups were less fortunate and died.

I say “ostensibly” because what the book really feels like is therapy. Krakauer harbours a great deal of guilt over the events. Some of this is survivor's guilt and some comes from the fact that a few hours after he returned to his tent a group of survivors lost their way in the blizzard and decided to try to wait out the storm agonisingly close to the camp. Hours later when the storm began to clear some of this group did find the camp and Anatoli Boukreev, one of the Russian guides, made a couple of attempts to rescue the others. Ultimately only one member of this small group died, a Japanese climber called Yasuko Namba (both she and American Beck Weathers were left for dead, but Weathers somehow awoke from his comatose state and walked back into camp the next morning, ultimately making it off the mountain alive if horrifically frostbitten). Krakauer's guilt over being asleep in his tent while people were dying so close by is palpable at times, and one can only hope that the barely contained outpourings of grief in the text were cathartic. But as I said at the start of the review, part of me felt that I was reading someone's diary or listening in on a therapy session, something that did make me a tad uncomfortable at times.

Those qualms aside, the book is a well written account. Krakauer has done his research, something that becomes vastly more important when writing about events at such high altitude since the lack of oxygen has a powerful discombobulating effect. Indeed, for several months after the climb Krakauer had been telling people that he had spoken to one of the guides, Andy Harris, and seen him fall down a large sheet of ice unscathed and walk into camp. When Harris was not present at the camp the next morning Krakauer set out to find him and discovering some crampon marks next to a sheer drop on the edge of the camp he surmised that a hypoxic Harris had got lost walking into camp and walked right off a cliff. Harris's family, who the previous evening had been told that Harris was fine, then had to be told that in fact he had died a rather ignoble death. Months later while interviewing another survivor, Krakauer discovered that the man he had spoken to and seen fall into the camp wasn't Harris, but this survivor, Martin Adams. Hypoxic himself, Krakauer's brain had mistaken this relative stranger for his friend Harris and thus the confusion began. The crampon marks on the edge of the drop later turned out to be from one of the Sherpas who had also got lost and walked beyond the camp, before realising his mistake and clambering back via the cliff. Harris, it turned out, had gone back for his group's leader and one of the clients, who were still near the summit. His ice axe, left stuck part way up a cliff, suggested he didn't make it.

A great number of jarring juxtapositions are strewn through the text. The romantic illusions of climbing the world's highest mountain contrasted with the excrement and litter filled camps along the route. The statistics showing that more climbers survive Everest now that ever before, contrasted with the corpses encountered by the path and the ultimate fact that 1996 saw fifteen climbers die on Everest, the greatest number in a single season ever. Some of the people involved are also almost caricatures of Hollywood stereotypes. There's the British villain who lies and threatens his way to the top, even refusing to let Krakauer's team use his radio when theirs ran out of batteries while the disaster was unfolding. There's the American prima donna who takes her laptops and hairdryer with her, having a Sherpa carry it all even to the camps where it won't work anymore. These depressing examples of humanity are portrayed in a generally open and honest manner. Krakauer doesn't seem to be blaming anyone, just trying to get everything off his chest and understand why it happened. Unfortunately the people best suited to answer this question died on the mountain, and those that survived had a tendency to alter their story on each telling, until many of these died too in the subsequent years.

The finger pointing does start up a little bit in the final chapter, but upon finishing that I didn't honestly feel that anyone who survived the events was to blame. Certainly not Anatoli Boukreev, the Russian guide. He had made some foolish decisions, yes. He was being paid $25 000 to act as a guide, yet seemed to treat it as a chance to climb the mountain. He avoided the clients in his group and climbed the mountain without supplemental oxygen, a feat tricky at the best of times. Trying to climb Everest and help others to and from the summit without using oxygen was folly, and Krakauer points this out. But he also highlights the hours that Boukreev spent rescuing the group who had made it almost to the camp. So I was a little surprised when I discovered that the “update” in this second edition wasn't a more definitive version of events, but simply a postscript wherein Krakauer rebuts aspersions on his character and factual errors in Boukreev's book [b:The Climb|1750745|The Climb Tragic Ambitions on Everest|Anatoli Boukreev|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1317791328s/1750745.jpg|910376]. The tragedy that happened on Everest was inevitably going to effect the lives of those who survived, but it's a shame that in the years following it descended into name calling and arguments over some fairly minor details. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (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
Last words
(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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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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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