Jon Krakauer is a mountaineer and writer of more than 5 books and a lot many magazine articles. While on an assignment for the Outside magazine in 1996, he wrote ‘Into Thin Air’ which went on to become one of his most famous books.
The blurb goes like this:
In May 1996, Jon Krakauer was on one of the three expeditions near the summit of Mount Everest. Then a storm hit, and by the end of the day eight people were dead. Into Thin Air tells the story of that ill-fated adventure. In it Krakauer brilliantly evokes the majestic Everest landscape and places his own experiences within the history of man’s attempt to conquer the world’s highest mountain. Into Thin Air is a landmark of mountaineering literature, and a harrowing tale of human tragedy and endurance.
This is the story of human endurance and spirit in the most extreme of circumstances where more often than not, it’s easy to throw in the towel. It’s the story of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, two individuals who loved mountaineering to bits and took hundreds of people to the top of Everest every year. It’s the story of ordinary people trying to achieve extraordinary things by exposing themselves to arduous terrain and extreme environments.
From the money involved to climb Everest to the rivalry among different expedition companies; from the process of climbing the mountain to the different medical conditions which are induced at higher altitudes, Jon goes into each and every detail on what went on in the minds of the individuals during the April – May climbing season in 1996.
The book also delves into the fact of how important Sherpas are to the entire mountaineering industry. Without them, the thousands of dollars spent by the climbers would be pointless.
Jon’s narrative is paced quite well and builds nicely throughout as the climbers move from Base Camp to Camp 1, 2, 3, 4 and then finally to the summit. He also ensures that he captures the emotions and the thought processes going on in the minds of the other climbing expeditions quite effectively which brings the disaster to life.
While this is a personal account, there maybe many who don’t agree with it and that’s perfectly fine. This does nothing to take away the credit from Jon’s excellent writing.
And honestly, I couldn’t think of a negative moment throughout the book.
If you are one who loves stories of adventure and human endurance, this is the one for you.
Rating – 4.5/5