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 including Krakauer s in guilt ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer s epic account of the Maydisaster


10 thoughts on “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

  1. Cassy Cassy says:

    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 experienceDon 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 an 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 experienceDon 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 levelDon 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 any 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


  2. jessica jessica says:

    i havent left my house in 37 days and i think its finally getting to me because, after reading this, i immediately thought,climbing everest sounds like funits official ive gone insane.___________________________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 an i havent left my house in 37 days and i think its finally getting to me because, after reading this, i immediately thought,climbing everest sounds like funits official ive gone insane.___________________________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 muchcaptivating 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 4.5 stars


  3. karen karen says:

    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 any 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 s 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 any 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 anyTHAT 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 reviewlaterokay, so i went to class i learned some stuff and i don t have muchto 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 come to my blog


  4. Brigette Brigette says:

    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 accu 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 Foraccounts 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


  5. Petra-X Petra-X says:

    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 It s also disappointing because few individuals do it by themselves, without 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 It s 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 I later read his book Ultimate High My Everest Odyssey 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 wasfulfilling 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 somehowpraiseworthy 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 themthan 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 Rewritten 7 May 2020 due to Covid 19 boredom, finding the book and skimming through it.


  6. Steve Steve says:

    Note to self take climbing Everest off bucket list.


  7. Matt Matt says:

    T he sort of individual who is programmed to ignore personal distress and keep pushing for the top is frequently programmed to disregard signs of grave and imminent danger as well This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you re too driven you re likely to die Above 26,000 feet, over, the line between appropriate zeal and reckless summit fever becomes grievously thin Thus the slopes T he sort of individual who is programmed to ignore personal distress and keep pushing for the top is frequently programmed to disregard signs of grave and imminent danger as well This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you re too driven you re likely to die Above 26,000 feet, over, the line between appropriate zeal and reckless summit fever becomes grievously thin Thus the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air On June 8, 1924, the first great challenger to Mount Everest, George Leigh Mallory along with partner Andrew Irvine made a fateful attempt to summit the tallest mountain in the world Expedition member Noel Odell, who was following in support, watched their progress from the safety of camp In a sudden clearing of the atmosphere, Odell reported, Mallory and Irvine appeared as two tiny black spot s , moving toward a great rock step He saw them only for a moment before the clouds came in, obscuring Mallory s blind march into legend Neither Mallory or Irvine returned In the years since, Everest has not grownforgiving If you happen to reach the summit, you are at the approximate cruising altitude of a commercial jet liner The air is so thin that you are literally dying That, combined with moody weather changes and the typical challenges of mountaineering, makes for a dangerous, deadly environment Everest is so unforgiving that the bodies of her would be conquerors such as the ill fortuned Green Boots often remain on her slopes for years, becoming macabre landmarks Despite this frightful reputation, the toll of May 10 11, 1996 manages to stand out Five people including two experienced guides lost their lives after ignoring their own turnaround times and getting caught in a sudden storm The cluster of deaths would have made news by itself It just so happened, however, that one of the surviving climbers was Jon Krakauer, an adventurer and journalist on assignment for Outside magazine Krakauer eventually wrote an article about his experiences, though it was a far cry from the report on Everest s commercialization that he had originally intended Ultimately, he returned to his article and reshaped it into a book, Into Thin Air In the years since its publication, Into Thin Air has come to be recognized as a classic of outdoor writing, despite the counter publications written by other participants, disagreeing with every single one of Krakauer s words Leaving aside the controversies which swirl around the disaster like the spindrift off the peak of Everest Into Thin Air is deserving of its lofty reputation Unlike a lot of first person memoirs churned out in the wake of disaster or trauma, Into Thin Air is the product of a man with a gift for writing Krakauer may have thought of himself as a climber who got into journalism, but he is a natural storyteller, and his prose wonderfully evokes the beauties and terrors of the mountainside In terms of conjuring place, of putting you there with the climbers whether that is the squalor of a filthy lodge in Lobuje, the vertiginous seracs of the Icefall, or the top of the world itself Krakauer succeeds at describing the indescribable At less than three hundred pages, Into Thin Air is compact and briskly paced Krakauer indulges a brief and fascinating history of mountaineering on Everest, before recounting his experiences as a member of Rob Hall s Adventure Consultants expedition Most of the time, Krakauer stays within his own experiences He tells you what he saw, what he heard, and his impressions of the other climbers owing to the fact that he wrote this with the wounds still raw and weeping, he is extremely careful in his presentations The only time Krakauer leaves the first person perspective is to piece together what happened to those who died while he was not present Krakauer was one of the first to summit Everest on May 10, 1996, and made it back to camp before the dying started in earnest Typically, I am wary of memoirs, since they are usually a vehicle for self promotion or self defense Krakauer struggles a bit with being both journalist and participant, of both reporting the action and being part of it For the most part, though, he strikes a good balance He points out instances where bad decisions were made Hall s failure to abide by his turnaround time, for instance but he does not reach a verdict or even issue an indictment Indeed, Krakauer reserves his harshest words for himself, and a hypoxia induced mistake he made that contributed to the death of one of the climbers To the extent that Krakauer provides a theory of the disaster, he attributes it to the crowds, with multiple expeditions trying to reach the summit during the same good weather window This led to traffic jams that turned the fixed ropes up the mountain into a Himalayan version of a Costco checkout line during a pandemic One of the most gripping, anxious scenes in the book is Krakauer s descent, as he has to wait for a slow moving group to ascend the Hillary Step while his bottled oxygen runs out There is a saying that the first guy through the door always gets hit Because Into Thin Air came out so quickly, and grew so popular, it immediately became a target for those who felt slighted or disrespected in Krakauer s telling For instance, the famed mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev felt compelled to pen with a cowriter his own account of the catastrophe, after Krakauer tepidly chided Boukreev for attempting to summit without supplemental oxygen while acting as a guide Krakauer also thoroughly describes Boukreev s near superhuman attempts to save the lives of climbers caught in the storm, so it s not like he had a vendetta.With the passage of so much time, I have absolutely zero interest in parsing all the different accounts, of trying to keep track of the directions all the fingers are pointing I don t believe it serves much of a purpose This isn t like a plane crash or a train accident, where reverse engineering the calamity might save other lives in the future You can t make Everest safer because it is Everest When you get near the top, you are subject to hypoxia, which hits everyone differently, and can strike down even the most veteran climber It s tough to blame anyone for an error in judgment when they can t breathe, when they can t think, when they are dying To say this event was a tragedy requires some modification If this was a tragedy, it was of the high tax bracket, entirely avoidable variety To make a supported climb on Everest requires a chunk of change that is quite a bit higher than the median income in the United States Dying on Everest unless you are a Sherpa is a privilege few can afford.To not only risk your life, but to pay handsomely for the opportunity, is partly an ego trip Yet it is impossible not to stand a bit in awe of those who make the attempt As Krakauer points out, the summit becomes an obsession for many, one that cannot simply be explained away as a premeditated lunge for the best cocktail party story ever There is something mysterious in a person who insists on trudging past the deadline, who like Mallory in 1924 refuses to simply turn on their heels and return home, and instead keeps reaching for the apex, as time and breath wind down to nothing There is a cost to Everest that Krakauer aptly shows cannot be translated into hard currency There is a knowledge that as a member of Mallory s expedition later wrote the price of life is death, and that, so long as the payment be promptly made, it matters little to the individual when the payment is made


  8. Michelle Michelle says:

    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 loudthan 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, the 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 loudthan 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, wasthan 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


  9. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    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 DEF 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 DEFACERSThis 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 kisserAnd 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 worldJason is such a dorkJonathan has been a fag latelyI HATE THIS BOOKIt 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 hairAlways SpicyOn page 88, in a different hand, we read Eric Conner, Feb 24 2000 he asked me outAnd 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 PEOPLEMountaineers 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 werethan 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, thelikely 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 isdangerous 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 safetyThe 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 expeditionThe 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 EverestThis enforced client passivity earns these guided expeditions great contempt in otherradical 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 wasconvinced than ever that I will never, ever understand the motivations of many of my fellow human beings


  10. Kelly (and the Book Boar) Kelly (and the Book Boar) says:

    Find all of my reviews atEverest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics, and others with a shaky hold on realityWelcome 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 atEverest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics, and others with a shaky hold on realityWelcome 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 centuryNote 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 sureI 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 aliveFor 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 fanYou might as well be on the moonAnd 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