Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Into Thin Air
I was first introduced to Jon Krakauer with Under the Banner of Heaven and found that I enjoyed his journalistic style of novel writing. Into Thin Air, about the Spring 1996 Everest climb, has been on list of "must read" for a couple of years now and the timing finally seemed right to read it.
The Everest climb in May of 1996 is the same climb that the IMAX team took to film Everest. Those who have seen the IMAX film may remember that the team had to push back their assault on the summit due a storm which took the lives of several people who were also on the mountain with other climbing groups. The IMAX team came to the aid of these teams with supplies and much needed help. One of the teams affected by the storm was the expedition Krakauer had joined.
He begins the book with a chilly account of the summit and introduction to the people who will not survive the climb. The rest of the book is a retelling of the events which lead up to the summit and the days following the climb. As a reader, you become familiar with the people you already know won't make it, and becoming attached to them is emotionally difficult.
Into Thin Air is not an easy book to read because of the emotional toll it takes. The ending left me empty with sadness. I would read it again, and I will definitely read Krakauer again. Just don't pick this up expecting a light read. Krakauer does a very good job of placing you in the camps with the climbers and does not hide his errors that affected the tragic outcome of the climb.