Saturday, July 4, 2009

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I read this book on a dare from Reinhold Messner. We were shooting the breeze one evening and he told that not only was I incapable of climbing Mt. Everest myself, I was probably incapable of even finishing a book about someone else's expedition. I took him up on this challenge, and while he was out climbing K2 for the fiftieth time, I read Into Thin Air.

I'm not a survivalist by any stretch of the imagination, but the first half of Krakauer's book, a true account of one of the most deadly ascents ever attempted on Everest, I was ready to go to base camp myself. The narrative follows Krakauer all the way from preparation until the disastrous denouement of the trip, when the majority of both parties on the mountain, including two of the most experienced climbers in the world, died as a result of an unexpected storm near the peak. There a little bit of dishy stuff, including some pretty direct criticism of some of the other climb leaders, but for the most part, Jon sticks with the narrative and the overarching theme: nature is dangerous and is not to be messed with, no matter how much experience you have.

By the time I finished reading, I'd completely lost any interest in climbing Everest myself. Messner returned from K2 and I filled him in. Of course, he just laughed. He's actually kind of a jerk. This book, however, was great. I recommend it.


Christopher said...

Yes, but have you read the Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner?

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