Friday, May 23, 2008

Book: Into Thin Air

This book is a first-hand account of a successful climb to the top of Mt Everest in 1996, a climbing season that ended as one of the deadliest on the mountain to date. Krakauer's tale was both compelling and tragic, as several of those who died on the mountain were teammates who had become friends in the many weeks they had prepared to make the ascent to the peak.

The author joined an Everest expedition as both an experienced mountain climber and a journalist, intending to explore the "commercialization" of the mountain. In years leading up to his trip, many had been critical of those who "bought" their way to the top, but were perhaps not physically fit enough to meet the rigorous demands. His tale is interspersed with researched facts about the “business” of climbing Everest, the environmental impact, the history of the mountain, and the social, spiritual and political issues in Nepal and Tibet that have had influence over access to the mountain.

I will say that if I had little inclination to attempt such a feat myself, I have absolutely none now. The author explains that those who make this trek do so knowing that to do so is to risk one's life... but do it anyway, admitting there is some irrationality to the decision. For the privilege of enduring two months in a hostile climate with no guarantees of reaching their goal, climbers pay up to $60-70,000 or more.* I was more than fascinated to simply read the story, enjoying immensely the opportunity to "visit" Everest through Krakauer's words and photos.

Into Thin Air
by Jon Krakauer

* Cost mentioned is at the time of the 1996 season – use your imagination to determine what the cost might be today….

1 comment:

  1. my reaction was also to never climb any mountain like everest either. the whole "death zone" thing is kind of unnerving. when i climbed mountains (back when I lived near them....) i found that i could start to feel that the air had thinned at about 10000 feet. it didn't bother me alot - it just made me tired.

    but if you haven't made a big summit - even like mnt. baldy - you should try. the view and sense of accomplishment are totally worth it.