Michelle's Reviews > Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
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's review
Mar 17, 09

bookshelves: non-fiction
Recommended for: mountaineers, adventure lovers, crazy people
Read in March, 2009

This is not a review. I don’t feel like writing a review for this book, but I feel like I should at least say something about it because I did enjoy it. I mean, it did make me utter “Jesus Christ” out loud more than one time, and I don’t often talk to myself while I am reading a book.

(I almost want to post a picture of a LOLcat with a caption that says “This buk wuz gud,” but I don’t have one.)

So…These are a few things I learned from reading this book:

1. If a person decides to climb Everest, they are likely to encounter dead bodies along the route up to the summit.

2. Lobuje, which is on the way to Everest Base Camp, is a place that overflows with human excrement. While Krakauer was there in 1996, he wrote "Huge stinking piles of human feces lay everywhere; it was impossible not to walk in it." Lovely. Insert “Want to get away from it all?” commercial here.

3. Without the assistance of Sherpas, it is unlikely that climbers would be able to reach the summit at all. Besides schlepping tons of your crap, they also know the way, and they place climbing ropes and in some instances, repair ladders, so people will be able to ascend the trickier places.

The place would also be a lot dirtier without them because they are partially responsible for removing some of the trash that Everest has accumulated over the years. One camp reported having around a thousand empty canisters of supplemental oxygen (as I said below in a review comment, so I might as well stick it in here, too).

4. In 1996, it cost $65,000 to be a client on a guided tour climbing Everest.

5. It is very easy to develop high-altitude sicknesses and/or hallucinations as a climber gets closer to the summit. In fact, the "every man/woman for him/herself" attitude that people had, whether or not they had to have it in order to survive, was more than a little disturbing.

On this particular excursion, two climbers got stuck on the mountain during a storm. They spent the night at 28,000 feet without shelter or supplemental oxygen and were believed to be dead. The guide sent to look for them the next day found them barely breathing after chipping off three inches of ice from their faces. Believing that they were beyond help, he left them there. One of the climbers, my personal hero, woke up from his coma hours later and was lucid enough to get himself back down to one of the camps. Sure, he lost half an arm, his nose, and all of the digits on his other hand to frostbite, but he's still alive.

Oh, and sure, the events that happened on Mt. Everest in 1996 were tragic, but I do think the people who climb it know what they are risking.
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Malbadeen I've been "reading" this book for about 2 years.

message 2: by Michelle (last edited Mar 17, 2009 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Michelle It's good...I'm still trying to write a review about it. Do you hate it? Is that why you haven't finished it? It's depressing, but you can't say these people didn't know about the risks they were taking in going up there. Also, I wonder how much has changed since Krakauer went up there in 1996.

message 3: by Malbadeen (last edited Mar 17, 2009 02:18PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Malbadeen I don't hate it.
I'm not a huge fan of Krakauer's writing but I think his topics are interesting enough.
I started reading it during a time when I was deeply dissapointed with human nature and thought hard core nature sounded like a good alternative.
I've since began to enjoy human nature again and just haven't gotten back into it.
*also every time I pick it up I'm reminded of someone that kind of sort of lied to me, even though he didn't need to kind of sort of lie to me, which makes my head spin and causes my rationale thinking processes to go into overdrive, which causes me to furrow my eyebrows and frown, which leads to more wrinkling, which is something I can do without.
so you see the whole damn thing is so complicated it's just too much!

message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 17, 2009 03:14PM) (new)

I'm not a huge fan of Krakauer's writing

Me either! It doesn't matter for me how great the story is he has to work with... his writing just makes it suck...

message 5: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Null I liked Into the Wild but that's the only one of his I've read.

message 6: by Michelle (last edited Mar 17, 2009 04:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Michelle Kim hates his writing, too. It doesn't really bother me, but that's probably because with his books I'm not looking for anything as far as the writing goes. I just want to know what happened.

I think his style is matter-of-fact and a kind of a cold retelling of the incident, but I liked all of the information that was in the book. By information, I mean, in addition to the climb itself, Krakauer wrote about the rivers of human shit that were in Lobuje, which was on the way to base camp. He also described the amount of trash up on that mountain, and the various efforts that have been made to reduce it. At the time, there was at least a thousand empty oxygen canisters littering one of the camps, which I suppose is the reality of climbing Everest. You think it's just going to be you, your climbing gear, and the mountain, but there's so much more.

message 7: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Null Michelle wrote: "Kim hates his writing, too. It doesn't really bother me, but that's probably because with his books I'm not looking for anything as far as the writing goes. I just want to know what happened.


That's how I feel, too. One of the best books I read all year last year was The Monster of Florence and it wasn't because it was so well-written (the writing was okay). I mean, it is well-written in the sense that the events are laid out well and the descriptions are clear and concise. But the language wasn't especially beautiful nor was it especially intellectual. But the story and the facts were so compelling that I loved the book.

message 8: by Manny (last edited Mar 17, 2009 11:29PM) (new)

Manny Thanks. I'd always vaguely thought it would be cool to try and climb Everest, but now I believe I'm permanently cured.

message 9: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Sarah, David...(Michelle?) you guys read 'Into the Wild', is it worth picking up?

(It's not like I don't have 9,374,389,439,261,631 other books to read.)

message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 18, 2009 05:38AM) (new)

Sarah, David...(Michelle?) you guys read 'Into the Wild', is it worth picking up?

I didn't like it. I was fascinated by the central story but was less interested in Krakauer's endless digressions.

message 11: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Ahh... that's what I thought. I think I'd feel the same. Back to Cancer Ward then.

Books Ring Mah Bell I still have to read this... I read Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven and Into the Wild and liked both of them. His writing does not bother me, it's not awesome, but the stories themselves make up for what he lacks, I guess.

that made no sense.

I need more coffee.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Your opinion is wrong, Bells.

Books Ring Mah Bell Smell my pants, Kowalski!

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Oooh. They smell like canned yams!

message 16: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Null Kim wrote: "Sarah, David...(Michelle?) you guys read 'Into the Wild', is it worth picking up?

I liked it. The digressions were a little annoying. I think he was trying to put McCandless's story in context or perspective but it came off more as just needing filler because not enough of McCandless's story was known to make a whole book. But I still thought it was worth reading.

Michelle I think Krakauer just tries to highlight a particular subculture when he writes these books. Because he was trying to understand McCandless, he wrote about other people in history who have suffered similar fates. He also wrote about other people who have died climbing Everest over the years.

Kim, if you hate his writing that much, you'll hate Into the Wild. You should rent the DVD. I thought it was really well done...I cried.

message 18: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Null Plus, Emile Hirsch gets nekkid.

Yep, there's peen.

Michelle I forgot about that! I should message Amy so she can add it to her list.
: )

Books Ring Mah Bell canned yams?

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