Quarantine Reads | Into Thin Air

Pandemics require some escape reading, am I right? Into Thin Air will totally take you to a different world - the one on top of Mt. Everest to be exact. I think in another life I must have climbed Mt. Everest. I'm pretty much obsessed with all the details surrounding this endeavor. I loved the movie Everest, and last year right around the climb window (May) I picked up Jon Krakauer's personal account of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster shown in the movie. I read it again recently, because it's such an escape (which is a little bit needed right about now).

Summiting Mt. Everest (the highest point on earth) involves an incredible amount of planning and challenges. The highest 3,000 or so feet are in what's referred to as the "death zone" where the atmosphere is so thin that human bodies can't function for long without supplemental oxygen. Even getting to base camp is a feat that involves planes, buses, helicopters and a multi-day trek. Krakauer (a journalist) joined one of the 1996 guided Everest expeditions to attempt to summit himself, and to cover the experience for a magazine. At the time, guided expeditions to Everest were a relatively new development - and the idea that amateur climbers could summit the mountain was still novel. Krakauer ended up writing an entire book on his experience since it ended up being so unprecedented. Here's what Amazon says about the book...

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

The well-researched novel is full of the mountain's history (the discovery it was the highest point on earth, the first attempts at climbing it and the first successful ones), and it gives great detail on all the technical aspects of climbing it as well as an overview of the disaster. Many factors were involved, including the absence of climbing lines, an over-capacitated summit attempt window, and a devastating storm.

My husband Max (a junior high student at the time) remembers the disaster because Beck Weathers, the father of one of Max's schoolmates, was on the very same expedition as Jon Krakauer. Beck's story is outlined in the book - he didn't make it back to Camp 3 in the storm and he was exposed to the deadly elements overnight. The rescue crew that later found him left him presuming he was dead. This information was relayed back to his family in Dallas. Miraculously, Beck awoke later in the day and made it back to Camp 3 entirely on his own. This news was then relayed back to the Texas community who rallied to arrange an airlift off the mountain (something that had never been attempted because of the extreme hight). If you enjoy Into Thin Air, Beck Weathers penned his own account the expedition in Left for Dead, which also includes his early climbing experiences as well as his recovery after being rescued off Mt. Everest. I devoured his book as well, because, as I said before, I'm kind of obsessed. Let me know what you think of Into Thin Air!

My Rating: 4.7/5
Amazon Rating: 4.6/5


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