Much has been written about Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and I can’t say anything new, but that, like every reviewer, I thought it was a great book. I’m glad that it’s one of the options for your summer reading.
As you know (or will know when you finish the book), Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest in 1996—at the very time that one of the worst killing-storms hit the mountain. His party (as well as another linked to a famous guide) was one of the most affected in a storm that left five climbers dead and one–who appeared dead–very frostbitten, losing his hand and parts of his face.
Though it’s been awhile since I read the book, three things have stayed with me. The first is the deep irony of the circumstances—that Krakauer hoped to show how, with the right guide and enough money, these days just about anyone could climb the much commercialized Everest. Yet two of the five people who died in the storm of the day Krakauer descended the peak were guides Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, the world’s best. And so nature can’t be controlled, no matter what we believe. The second thing that has remained with me over the years is how an oxygen-deprived brain can cause people to make terrible decisions, ones that put their own and others’ lives at risk. And last, though I can’t say it was surprising, is the sadness of learning that climbers, who were very close to their long-time goal of climbing Everest, left others to die because helping them would have meant that they had to turn away from the peak and not ‘summit.’
So—what most affected you?