“Everest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics and others with a shaky hold on reality.”Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air
Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genres: Non-fiction, Travel, Memoir, Adventure, History
Pages: 293 (Hardcover)
Published: May 1st, 1997
My Rating: ★★★★★
Read: 10/4/2022 – 10/9/2022
Immersive, personal, and adventuresome, Jon Krakauer brings his readers to Mount Everest to recount his disastrous trek up the infamous mountain in 1996. In the style of a novel, the memoir replays the events of the trip from start to finish as the author remembers them (which is easier said than done when dealing with lethally high altitudes).
All I could wonder while reading was, ‘is risking your life really worth conquering the summit?’. Apparently given how many have attempted it throughout history, the answer is yes. Simply picking up this book or those like it is a testament to human curiosity and thirst for adventure. While I am personally content to read about other people’s travels when it comes to climbing mountains, there were a number of times throughout the book I envisioned myself out there in the below-freezing cold. Though this book is not short on the devastating loss of lives, I can ultimately understand why someone might find the risks and exhaustion worth it.
This was the second book by Jon Krakauer I’ve read and I enjoyed it just as much as the first.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The novel-esque feel to the book.
- Having a list of names at the beginning of the book. It helped keep everybody straight.
What I didn’t like:
- It dragged in some places.
The closest I’ve ever come to climbing a mountain has been in Canada at Montmorency Falls in Quebec. There is a massive stairway that climbs the face of one of the cliffs. I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t last half an hour climbing Mount Everest. I applaud anyone who even considers attempting it, let alone actually make the hike.
That being said, my pathetic ‘mountain climbing’ story and the pain I felt throughout my entire body give me a slight bit of perspective. Though really no more than a hill, I remember the roar of the waterfall while climbing and how beautiful and green it was at the top. It’s just about my favorite place in the world to visit now (though I have since discovered you can drive up there rather than walk…) and if I were physically able, I could see myself catching the hiking bug.
In the digital age, we take nature for granted. Attempting Mount Everest and even trickier mountains is certainly an extreme attempt at testing oneself and embracing the world around us, but I can imagine the fulfillment it must bring spiritually. I still don’t think I’d go as far as to say it’s worth risking your life to achieve these endeavors, especially after reading the descriptions of the deceased in this book, it gave me some moments from my own life to reflect on and dare I say inspire me to get out a little bit more.