Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publication Date: Originally 1997, this edition 2009
The Short Version:
When Jon Krakauer agreed to go on a Mount Everest climbing expedition to write an article for Outside magazine he never imagined he’d be in the middle of one of the deadliest days ever on the mountain.
Why I Read It:
I read this the first time years ago but the trailers for the new movie made me decide it was time for a reread.
From the publisher:
When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10,1996, he hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds…
Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step by step from Katmandu to the mountain’s deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has his readers shaking on the edge of their seat. Beyond the terrors of this account, however, he also peers deeply into the myth of the world’s tallest mountain. What is is about Everest that has compelled so many poeple–including himself–to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense?
When I first read this many years ago (shortly after the paperback was first released) it sparked an interest other books and stories about climbing the world’s tallest mountains and Everest in particular. It has remained on my list of one of the best books I’ve ever read.
When I started seeing the trailers for the new movie version I decided I wanted to read it again. I managed to get a copy that included an updated afterward by Jon Krakauer that responds to some of the initial criticism after the book was first released.
I’m happy to say that it holds up to a second reading and years later I still think it’s an excellent book.
Krakauer was on the expedition to write a story for Outside magazine about the commercialization of climbing Everest. The day he summited turned out to be one of the deadliest ever on the mountain. Through a series of coincidences and poor decisions on the part of many professional climbers eight people died on the mountain in May of 1996.
Krakauer’s story of that spring as a participant in one of the ill-fated expeditions is a harrowing first person account.
I highly recommend this book.