Into Thin Air Book Review

May 22, 2023
David Sunnyside

into thin air book review

Into Thin Air is a gripping account of the 1996 climbing season on Mt. Everest that resulted in the deaths of eight climbers. It was written within months of the events it chronicles, and it's a book that doesn't shy away from the beauty and ugliness of mountains and the brutal extremes of human experience. Into Thin Air has joined the ranks of the likes of The Perfect Storm and Jaws in terms of generating widespread popularity for paperback non-fiction.

On assignment for Outside Magazine, journalist Jon Krakauer went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, arguably the world's most respected high-altitude mountain guide. But on summit day, the supposedly expert team suffered a disastrous series of missteps and a catastrophic storm that led to the deaths of eight people.

Krakauer's firsthand knowledge of the events of the tragedy makes this a harrowing read. He reveals the various small-seeming factors that converged to create the disaster and makes you feel as if you are on the mountain with him, whether it's the hellish conditions at base camp or the horror of crossing crevasses on rickety ladders. He also gives credit to the Sherpas and avoids blasting easy targets, such as Sandy Pittman, a wealthy socialite who brought her own espresso maker on the expedition.

Krakauer's story is a reminder that no matter how skilled a mountaineer, it's not a case of "once you've climbed Mount Everest once, you're done. You'll never have to do it again." Into Thin Air is a powerful book that should not be missed by any serious mountaineer or non-climber.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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