Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air book cover

The book that I chose to read is Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (click here for the synopsis).

The first thing I noticed, before I even started the book, was the “dedicated to” page. I know that most people tend to ignore them but I like to read it since it gives me a good initial understanding of the author and book. Anyways, the reason it caught my attention was the line: “in memory of Andy Harris, Doug Hansen, Rob Hall, Yasuko Namba, Scott Fisher, Ngawang Topche Sherpa, Chen Yu-Nan, Bruce Herrod, Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa, and Anatoli Boukreev” (Krakauer XI). It’s pretty long, right? I found it odd but I chose to ignore it. It wasn’t until the author mentioned “Anatoli Bourkreev, a Russian climbing guide” (Krakauer 8) that I realized that the “in memory” section was for the people who died during the Mount Everest climb. The realization gave me chills.

Another freaky thing that the author does throughout the story is list his current height from sea level. Due to the fact that I know that the storm hits once he reaches the summit, it’s almost like a morbid countdown. “11,300 feet…16,000 feet…16,200 feet” (Krakauer 44-54) all the way up until he reaches 29,028 feet: the peak.

PHOTO: An undated stock photo of Mount Everest.
Picture of Mount Everest (2019)

This countdown, or rather count up, gave me flashbacks to my visit to the Rocky Mountains two years ago. Now, the Rockies are not nearly as tall as Everest (only about 12,293 feet at the highest peak (Oishimaya)), and I didn’t even come close to the summit, but the sheer height is still noticeable. This book made me remember one particular event where I was riding a Gondola up on of the mountains, and an automatic voice would occasionally tell me how high I was. Everytime it would say a new height I would look down to see how far from the ground I was. This experience gives me a pretty good (although not perfect) visual of the author’s climb. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine just how far up a few thousand feet really is, so the fact that I was able to do this gave me a better understanding of how much danger the author was in throughout the whole book. The feeling of terror and helplessness it inspires almost makes me wish that I didn’t know how high up the author was at any given moment.

The author makes a few interesting choices while writing the story. For example, each chapter begins with a quote from another piece of writing about Everest, including multiple quotes from “Thomas F. Hornbein Everest: The West Ridge” (Krakauer 15), a piece of writing by a mountaineer who had previously climbed Everest. The author also sometimes tells the story of what happened to previous climbers such as Enmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest. Both of these choices are so interesting because a lot of the other climbers that Krakauer tells the stories of actually end up dying on the mountain. It really hits home how dangerous climbing Everest actually is, even without a massive storm making the trek hazardous. 

Left: Edmund Hillary, Right: Jon Krakauer

Overall, I think that this is a really interesting book and I’m excited to read more.

Book Reference:

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. New York, Anchor Books, November 1999. Print.

Picture Reference:

Biography.com. “Edmund Hillary Biography”. Biography.com. N/a. Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/athlete/edmund-hillary

Cunningham, Caroline. “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster”. Indigo. N/a. Retrieved from https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/into-thin-air-a-personal/9780385494786-item.html

N/a. “An undated stock photo of Mount Everest”. abcNews. 2019. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/International/china-closes-mount-everest-base-camp-tourists-garbage/story?id=61144089

Penguin Random House. “Jon Krakauer”. jonkrakauer.com. N/a. Retrieved from http://www.jonkrakauer.com/

Website Reference:

Nag, Oishimaya. worlatlas.com. WorldAtlas. June 11, 2019. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-10-tallest-peaks-in-alberta-canada.html

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. Hey Katlin! Nice blog post; even though we aren’t doing the same novel, I enjoyed reading yours. What really stuck out to me was that connection that you saw between the dedication page and the brief mention on one of the pages. Man, that’s freaky! That count up is also pretty chilling. I’m not reading the novel, but would you say that these mildly creepy things are done purposefully to give you a more immersive and engaging experience as you read? Or is he kinda just a weirdo like you and me?

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: