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Into Thin Air MAG
Jon Krakauer does an exceptional job portraying the horrors of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster in this eyewitness account. He recounts the events leading up to it in vivid detail. Readers will find Krakauer’s work an incredibly powerful story of survival.
The 1996 Everest disaster was the deadliest single event in the history of the mountain. On May 10, as three expeditions were ascending to the summit, a powerful storm hit, trapping climbers. Eight died, including world-renowned guides Scott Fischer and Rob Hall.
Krakauer climbed Everest as an assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the feasibility of guided Everest expeditions. Originally, the magazine wanted him to remain at Base Camp and not climb the mountain, but Krakauer persuaded them to fund his ascent.
Krakauer documents in detail the month-long acclimatization process that climbers must undergo or risk problems like HAPE (high-altitude pulmonary edema) and HACE (high-altitude cerebral edema).
Krakauer describes the actual summit attempt, explaining obstacles along the way, including the Khumbu Icefall, a massive fast-moving glacier that climbers must scale. It is the most technically challenging aspect of the route that has claimed many lives.
Unlike other accounts of expeditions, Krakauer does not glorify his actions in any way. In fact, he criticizes his own actions as much as he criticizes others: “My actions - or failure to act - played a direct role in the death of Andy Harris.”
I enjoyed how Krakauer describes every minute detail - from the equipment to the effects of high-altitude on the body. I found the side stories very interesting.
This book invokes emotions ranging from grief to shock. While reading it, I became attached to some of the characters. I felt genuine grief when one of them died.
Before I read Into Thin Air, I thought Everest was just a technically demanding mountain. However, now I have new insight about how climbing Everest is a test of how much pain you can endure before giving up. It showed me how the
crucial element in climbing any mountain is one’s determination to reach the top rather than physical prowess.
Overall, I enjoyed Into Thin Air. One does not need to know much about mountaineering to understand it. Krakauer’s masterpiece is a true story of survival and suffering that should be read by all