Monday, February 08, 2010

30 Days of Recommendations: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

by Jon Krakauer

What’s it about: Krakauer’s harrowing, first person account of the May 1996 disaster on Mount Everest, where eight climbers died near the summit after a freak storm popped up.

Why you should read it: One of the best adventure/nature books you will ever read, Krakauer’s clear, concise prose makes you feel all the effects of a high altitude climb without you actually putting yourself in danger. Anyone reading this riveting account, and deciding to try to ascend Everest, needs to have their head examined.

Krakauer was the author of Into the Wild and an writer for Outside Magazine where this book was first an article.


"In March 1996, Outside Magazine sent me to Nepal to participate in, and write about, a guided ascent of Mount Everest. I went as one of eight clients on an expedition led by a well-known guide from New Zealand named Rob Hall. On May 10 I arrived on top of the mountain, but the summit came at a terrible cost.

Among my five teammates who reached the top, four, including Hall, perished in a rogue storm that blew in without warning while we were still high on the peak. By the time I'd descended to Base Camp nine climbers from four expeditions were dead, and three more lives would be lost before the month was out.

The expedition left me badly shaken, and the article was difficult to write. Nevertheless, five weeks after I returned from Nepal I delivered a manuscript to Outside, and it was published in the September issue of the magazine. Upon its completion I attempted to put Everest out of my mind and get on with my life, but that turned out to be impossible. Through a fog of messy emotions, I continued trying to make sense of what had happened up there, and I obsessively mulled the circumstances of my companions' deaths."