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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disasterby Jon Krakauer
My to-read list is long as it is, so I usually put off reading bestsellers until (a) the hype dies down and used copies start to become available or (b) someone chastises me for not having read something that came out forever ago. And so it was that 10 years after its release, I finally got around to reading Into Thin Air. Turns out the hype was justified. Krakauer's personal account of the deadliest season in Everest's climbing history is, hands down, one of the most riveting, harrowing, and thoughtfully written books I have read. I cannot recommend it enough.
Synopses & Reviews
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 desperately struggling 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.
Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed journalist and author of the bestseller Into the Wild. On assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the mountain, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, the most respected high-altitude guide in the world. A rangy, thirty-five-year-old New Zealander, Hall had summited Everest four times between 1990 and 1995 and had led thirty-nine climbers to the top. Ascending the mountain in close proximity to Hall's team was a guided expedition led by Scott Fischer, a forty-year-old American with legendary strength and drive who had climbed the peak without supplemental oxygen in 1994. But neither Hall nor Fischer survived the rogue storm that struck in May 1996.
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 eyewitness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.
Into the Wild is available on audio, read by actor Campbell Scott.
When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mount 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 the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds.
Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step-by-step from Katmandu to the mountain's deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has us shaking on the edge of our seat. Beyond the terrors of this account, however, he also peers deeply into the myth of the world's tallest mountain. What is it 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 unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer's eyewitness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.
About the Author
Jon Krakauer, author of three books, including the acclaimed bestseller Into the Wild, is a contributing editor of Outside Magazine. He and his wife live in Seattle.
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