Book Jacket Synopsis: “Reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion, Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996. He hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours. 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… This is the terrifying story of what really happened that fateful day at the top of the world, during what would be the deadliest season in the history of Everest. In this harrowing yet breathtaking narrative, Krakauer takes the reader along with his ill-fated expedition, step by precarious step, from Kathmandu to the mountain’s pinnacle where, plagued by a combination of hubris, greed, poor judgment, and plain bad luck, they would fall prey to the mountain’s unpredictable fury. With more than three million copies in print in all editions, this sensational book virtually defines excellence in the genre of narrative nonfiction. Brilliantly written and supported by unimpeachable reporting, Into Thin Air will by turns thrill and terrify.”
Review: Wow. If I didn’t already know before reading this book that I should never try to climb Mount Everest, I sure as hell do now. I mean, come on: many of the deaths during Everest’s 1996 season were highly experienced guides and Sherpas! I completely agree that Into Thin Air “defines excellence in the genre of narrative nonfiction.” Krakauer does an outstanding job of not only recounting his own ill-fated expedition, but also diving into the history of Mount Everest and the many people who have failed and succeeded to climb it. I really appreciate that he quickly and completely stripped away the glamor of climbing Everest. For an overwhelming majority of the climb, clients, guides, and Sherpas are miserable. The clients, many of whom are NOT physically or mentally prepared to actually climb the highest mountain in the world, grapple with intense altitude sickness and exposure to the elements. The guides constantly exhaust themselves as the rush up and down the mountainside, attempting to help wayward clients from different parties. The Sherpas themselves, perhaps the only ones actually physically qualified to climb the mountain, are tasked with immense responsibility that includes laying all of the ropes for each climb, setting up camp at each new level, and cooking for the clients. Along the way, the clients become desensitized to the frozen bodies of those who failed to make it safely back down. When Krakauer reaches the summit, he is so physically destroyed that he can’t even appreciate the feat he just accomplished. His perspective on the questionable and downright confusing decisions that were made on May 11, 1996, gives readers a window into a tragedy that shocked the world. Into Thin Air is a captivating look into the events that led to the deaths of eight climbers on that fateful May day.