Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Book - 1997
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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.

By writing Into Thin Air , Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight into what went wrong. But for Krakauer himself, further interviews and investigations only lead him to the conclusion that his perceived failures were directly responsible for a fellow climber's death. Clearly, Krakauer remains haunted by the disaster, and although he relates a number of incidents in which he acted selflessly and even heroically, he seems unable to view those instances objectively. In the end, despite his evenhanded and even generous assessment of others' actions, he reserves a full measure of vitriol for himself.

This updated trade paperback edition of Into Thin Air includes an extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev in the wake of the tragedy.nbsp;nbsp;"I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in the postscript, dated August 1999. "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 an avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I.

In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious prize intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment."nbsp;nbsp;According to the Academy's citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.nbsp;nbsp;His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Villard, [1997]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©1997
ISBN: 9780385494786
9780679457527
Branch Call Number: 796.522 K858
Characteristics: xx, 293 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

The author describes his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers, and explains why he survived.

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.

Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild, describes how he survived his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers.


From the critics


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g
GMorey
Jan 02, 2019

Into Thin Air is a chilling, yet profound book of the Mount Everest Disaster. Masterfully written, it is a great adventure book, but also a moving tale of those who lost their lives on the mountain.

p
Programmer_Mary
Nov 08, 2018

During the time that I was reading this book, every night I dreamed I was climbing Mt Everest. Vivid and compelling (the book - well, the dreams were too!). I love books like this for taking me to places and into situations that I would never otherwise get to. I bought my own copy of this. Fantastic read.

DCLadults May 07, 2018

I couldn’t put this down. The stories about the history of other Everest climbers were interestingly told and the 1996 ordeal was intense and absorbing. I came away with a different opinion about what it means to climb Everest in modern times.

SPPL_János Mar 22, 2018

While reporting on the worrying phenomenon of commercial climbing tours on Mount Everest, Krakauer was caught in the mountain's deadliest disaster. With soul-searching detail he recreates the freak storm that stranded and killed 8 climbers, and the larger world of high-altitude climbing. A haunting picture of this deadly environment and a survivor's inner turmoil.

c
cularien
Jan 16, 2018

Wow. What a story/event/book. This book will draw you in and not let go until you’re done.

I’d never read anything by Krakauer before, nor was I familiar with the events spawning the book—so I truly came into it cold, no pun intended.

I skimmed at times midway through; there’s also a handful of language and (for my conservative, faith based taste) content (references to drug use and “making sauce”) that were, to me, unnecessary and detracting.

But the story itself—wow. Krakauer really brought all parties to life and painted a vivid word picture; I truly felt like I was there with them. The climax was gut wrenching, sorrowful, painful; I felt the author’s grief and pain to my core. A book that will stay with me for some time to come.

ArapahoeHollyR Aug 23, 2017

Thrilling survival tale of a disastrous Everest summit attempt. Highly recommended for any extreme adventure or mountaineering fans.

ArapahoeStaff1 Feb 15, 2017

I read this book after I watched the newest Everest movie, and felt I needed even more information. This book was incredibly compelling. I was awed and terrified by Everest, and the people that climbed up this fateful May. I'm now obsessed with Everest stories, and Krakauer is an incredibly gifted writer. For anyone that wants to know what happened on Mount Everest with one of the most talented and well-known guides, I highly suggest getting this title immediately.

e
edvolk
Nov 18, 2016

There are at least 3 others who were on the mountain at the same time as the author who wrote books about their experiences. All in part blame Krakauer for the events that he writes about. Some of the things he says appear to be untrue as well. Please read Lou Kasischke's book or Anatoli Boukreev's book for a different take on the disaster.

ArapahoeAlicia Aug 09, 2016

The best non-fiction in my opinion is the kind that reels you in like a great novel. Krakauer has an excellent knack for true storytelling and this book being founded in his own experiences on Everest during such a great tragedy had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Whether you like mountaineering or not, this book is not to be missed.

y
ylkcls
Jul 19, 2016

This story was very touching!

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yuweizheng Aug 18, 2013

Into Thin Air is a novel about a real adventure and the story is told from the point of view of a witness Jon Krakauer, a journalist who is one of the climbers to reach the summit in 1996.

notTom Dec 16, 2010

This modern classic of the adventure genre is a first-hand narrative of the storm atop Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, which led to the death of eight people in May of 1996. Written only months after it happened, Outside magazine journalist and dedicated mountain climber Jon Krakauer relates the tragic journey to the summit of Everest, led by celebrated guide Rob Hall with granite-like resolve. To provide context, Krakauer evokes the storied history of climbing on Everest and the dangerous yet immensely rewarding art of mountain climbing in general. This Pulitzer Prize finalist is filled with gritty power and clear eloquence: it is an account of both grandeur and loss.

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IndyPL_ToddG Dec 04, 2018

Rob and I had talked about the impossibility of being rescued from the summit ridge. As he himself had put it, 'You might as well be on the moon.'" - Chapter 17

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