Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mount Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mount Everest Disaster

Hardcover | April 22, 1997

byJon Krakauer

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When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top.  No one had noticed that the sky had begun to fill with clouds. Six hours later and 3,000 feet lower, in 70-knot winds and blinding snow, Krakauer collapsed in his tent, freezing, hallucinating from exhaustion and hypoxia, but safe. The following morning, he learned that six of his fellow climbers hadn't made it back to their camp and were desperately struggling for their lives. When the storm finally passed, five of them would be dead, and the sixth so horribly frostbitten that his right hand would have to be amputated.

Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed journalist and author of the bestseller Into the Wild. On assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the mountain, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, the most respected high-altitude guide in the world.  A rangy, thirty-five-year-old New Zealander, Hall had summited Everest four times between 1990 and 1995 and had led thirty-nine climbers to the top. Ascending the mountain in close proximity to Hall's team was a guided expedition led by Scott Fischer, a forty-year-old American with legendary strength and drive who had climbed the peak without supplemental oxygen in 1994. But neither Hall nor Fischer survived the rogue storm that struck in May 1996.

Krakauer examines what it is about Everest that has compelled so many people -- including himself -- to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense. Written with emotional clarity and supported by his unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer's eyewitness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.

Into the Wild is available on audio, read by actor Campbell Scott.

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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mount Everest Disaster

Hardcover | April 22, 1997
In stock online Not available in stores
$35.00

From Our Editors

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top. No on...

From the Publisher

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top.  No o...

From the Jacket

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top.  No o...

Jon Krakauer, author of three books, including the acclaimed bestseller Into the Wild, is a contributing editor of Outside Magazine.  He and his wife live in Seattle.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.51 × 6.51 × 1.06 inPublished:April 22, 1997Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0679457526

ISBN - 13:9780679457527

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Into thin air Good there was lots of death and was a sad story but was good. Many people died and there was a good story behind it
Date published: 2015-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought provoking An amazingly interesting and well written book. Disturbing to read at times, but all details were written sensitively and contributed to the tale. Almost impossible to believe that this could happen.
Date published: 2014-04-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking I read this book because I am planning to climb Kilimanjaro this year and although a completely different climb I thought I would get a feel for the experience. From the moment I started reading it I was hooked, the author does an excellent job describing the many challenges they faced and the horrific feat this climb is. I recommend this book to anyone that has ever thought they might like this kind of challenge, a real wake up call!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging, in depth look at the dangers of Everest My late 2013 interest with Everest started with clicking on a documentary on Netflix that was intriguing and left me wanting to know more. After reading countless articles online about various Everest expeditions, "Into Thin Air" kept emerging as the leading must have read. I purchased a copy from Chapters, and was done in three days. Into Thin Air gives an in depth, albeit biased, account of the May 1996 summits in which many lives were lost. I would love to read more about the other climbers perspectives, but find that the author has done an excellent job providing the reader a far greater account of what an Everest expedition is like than any documentary or news article will. Krakauer provides many details about the the various climbers on the mountain, the circumstances of each day, and decisions that were made. He touches on errors he made himself, both on the mountain and after his descent. A highly recommended read.
Date published: 2014-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It will haunt you. There's an obvious parallel between "summit madness," that need a climber feels to risk life and limb to overtake the world's greatest peak, and how this book hangs on you as and after you read it. The account of Krakauer's own experiences in the 1996 Everest disaster is riveting. This is a classic of the non-fiction genre, written and researched with a masterful flair that sets it on the already-impressive level it would occupy just with his first person account. It's much more than that, though. It's a triumph of the genre. Krakauer provides us the history of Everest climbs, a good deal of alpine lore and technical info, and he tells it in a style that grips the mind. It's a harrowing read. The chapters detailing with the disastrous events of May 10 and 11 as three groups attempt the summit will leave you gasping and shaking. Quite simply one of the greatest works of non-fiction ever.
Date published: 2013-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A riveting account Long considered the seminal book on the 1996 Everest disaster, Into Thin Air leaves me with the conflicting desires to take up mountaineering, and to never ever EVER reach an altitude higher that Banff.
Date published: 2013-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Damn good read I'm not a climber though I love outdoor & wilderness adventure and trekking. This is one of the best climbing adventure books I have ever read. It tells the story of Everest's most tragic season. Whether you are an active outdoorsperson or an armchair dreamer you cannot fail to be moved by the story and Krakauer's recounting of it. There is a wide debate about the accuracy of Krakauer's narrative. I cannot judge that but I will say that with so many unknowns there is bound to be error although the nature of the high alpine lends itself to many unknowns and hence much supposition. The narrative reads like a long magazine essay - illuminating, easy to follow, a few twists and turns and just a damn good read
Date published: 2012-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nature's Wrath! True life account of climbers trapped on Mount Everest and their quest for survival. I was hoping for more information on the formation of the Himalaya Mountain range and more insights into each of the affected climbers. Yes, the story is real and dramatic but I found it quite distant and cold requiring more of a human touch. Still not a bad read.
Date published: 2011-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You Must Read This!! I have wanted to read this personal account of the Mount Everest disaster for some years now, and I have finally done so. This is a very vivid memoir, and if you as a reader ever had a romanticized notion of what climbing Everest would be like, Krakauer puts them to bed. Beyond his initial excitement at the prospect of acheiving his life-long goal of summiting Everest, he does not glamorize this climb in any way. Instead, he takes his reader back to that mountain with him. Nothing is left to the imagination, you smell every smell, feel every ache, gasp for every breathe, feel every degree below zero, and he will wring you out emotionally as he takes you to the brink of madness, it is raw, the way only a survivor could tell it, but you will not be able to put this book down. The fact that there were any survivors at all is a testimony to the human survival instinct, and the unbelievably selfless acts of heroism juxpositioned against the unimaginable decisions that had to be made, are a testimony to the human spirit. Although this book is 15 years old, it will definitely be making my Top Ten Best Reads for 2011, and though it is a tough read emotionally, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Date published: 2011-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous and a Must Read This is one of those books that will stay with you forever. I listened to the audio book which was read by the author. To him telling you this story in his own voice - this true story- was amazing. It is the story of trip to the top of Mount Everest. He was hired by Outdoor Magazine to write a story about the tours to the top of Everest - how there was a lot of debate about these "tour groups" as opposed to real climbers. You know there is disaster coming and as you learn to like and enjoy these people you are so worried as to who is going to die. The IMAX Everest movie is being taped during this same season on Everest so if you have seen that movie you have seen some of the story. It was so moving and terrifying. Jon Krakauer wrote the article quickly after the horrible experience and it turns out some things were wrong. You can feel his regret through out this book as he tries to get the story right for the families of the other climbers. I couldn't stop listening to this book. I highly recommend this emotional fascinating read.
Date published: 2008-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! I had a difficult time putting this book down. 'Into thin air' is a well written account of an extremely tragic event. The book is so well detailed and thorough that you feel like you are there on Mnt. Everest. Interesting and shocking it will keep you captivated to the very end.
Date published: 2008-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hard to put down. Was very interesting to read the personal struggle of people who attempt to Climb the Tallest peak. Parts of this book made me doubt the true intent of 'helping your fellow man'... and others made me realize Greed controls some people at the oddest moments. It was a slower start, but the back story and introduction truely helps with the story later on.
Date published: 2008-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking! This book had me on edge the entire time I read it. I felt like I was there with them gasping for air. The writing made me feel as though I could see every crevasse on Everest.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shocking! What an amazing book. It really made me think and wonder about how we live in community. What drives us? When do we help a neighbour, friend, stranger? It was an obvious struggle to write the book and you could really hear that.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good for a start Interesting book, get me hooked on "Mountains". Now I am "Chair mountaineer" :) But don't stop on this one. Read more about Boukreev and Joe Simpson or you will not have full picture not only that event but whole mountaineering culture.
Date published: 2007-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review A haunting personal account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. I spoke to many of my friends about the events described within this book. I simply couldn't get it out of my mind. Krakauer is a superb writer, who knows how to draw intense emotions out of his readers. I would encourage everyone to read this book, regardless of their knowledge of Mount Everest or mountaineering. If nothing else, it will make you wonder how anyone in their right mind would willingly put themselves through so much pain.
Date published: 2007-12-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fun read Nothwithstanding disagreements about Krakauer's journalistic integrity, how he may have unfairly portrayed certain individuals, use of supplemental oxygen, etc etc, Into Thin Air remains a thoroughly fun and enjoyable read. I picked this up and couldn't stop until I finished it - the climb up Everest was exhilarating, and the tragedy, as it unfolded page by page, was gripping.
Date published: 2006-07-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Far from the best book about the 96 Everest season While I do enjoy Krakauer's books I am always annoyed by how much of them are about him. He is always moving away from the story to tell anecdotes about himself. Sometimes irrelevant ones. This is especially evident in "Into the Wild" but also occurs here. Incredibly frustrating with this book is his portrayal of Anatoli Boukreev. Krakauer makes too many unfair, unsubstantiated conclusions about the disaster and those regarding Boukreev seem the most agregious. Fortunately there are now several books on this event offering differing perspectives. If you liked this book be sure to read "The Climb" by Boukreev.
Date published: 2006-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A "must" read book! I've read this book 6 times, and everytime I read it it's like the first time... You want to read one more chapter, and another, and another!
Date published: 2006-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your heart will skip a beat This is a must read for any Everest enthusiast. Although I will most likely never reach the summit but I felt like Krakauer guided me to the top in this masterpiece. Don't read this without supplemental oxygen!
Date published: 2005-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fasinating read I find Krakauer's writing to be, if anything, all the more compelling for it sparness. He brings you as close as you can get to the experience without actually being there and he does it with a real economy of effort. As for a hidden agenda, (?) I know not what it is too. But i think that's probably because it isn't there.
Date published: 2005-05-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from One Side Of The Story If You want to read an implausible tale about an Everest Ascencion. Read this book. I'm not saying Krakauer never climbed Everest, because by all means he probably did. I'm suggesting Mr Krakauer's post-climb story is not credible. Like every apprentice customer on the 1996 Everest expedition, the author of this book was affected by the lack of oxygen. Thus, he was not utterly able to constate everything that went on as accurately as he described it . On the other hand if you want to read a good fiction the tale is very interesting. If you read this book make sure to read Anatoli Boukreev's The Climb afterwards. This way you can read objectively and decide for yourself who is right and who is wrong.
Date published: 2005-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exciting Read A riveting account of a terrible tragedy. Despite this, it made me wish that I could climb Mount Everest too. I devoured three more books on Mount Everest after this one but none were as current or as enjoyable. I only wished that I had seen the movie!
Date published: 2002-10-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Arrogant Krakauer is known for his verbosity. This book is no exception. An interesting tale indeed but poorly written and highly, highly bias. His lack of journalistic integrity is apparent and anybody that has done any sort of research of the 1996 tragedy agrees - Krakauer has some alternative agenda, although we know not what that is. Don't read it.
Date published: 2002-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beyond the clouds While reading Jon Krakauer's account of this journey gone wrong, you can't help but feel you are also along for the ride. His descriptive prose leaves nothing to the imagination. Krakauer reaches new heights with Into thin Air.
Date published: 2001-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Felt like you were there!! I just finished reading this amazing and wonderfully written book, you felt as though you were on Everest with them. An amazing account of the adventure and danger that was encountered on Everest. An excellent book, easy to read and extremely interesting.
Date published: 2000-07-19

Extra Content

Read from the Book

In March 1996, Outside Magazine sent me to Nepal to participate in, and write about, a guided ascent of Mount Everest. I went as one of eight clients on an expedition led by a well-known guide from New Zealand named Rob Hall. On May 10 I arrived on top of the mountain, but the summit came at a terrible cost.Among my five teammates who reached the top, four, including Hall, perished in a rogue storm that blew in without warning while we were still high on the peak. By the time I'd descended to Base Camp nine climbers from four expeditions were dead, and three more lives would be lost before the month was out.The expedition left me badly shaken, and the article was difficult to write. Nevertheless, five weeks after I returned from Nepal I delivered a manuscript to Outside, and it was published in the September issue of the magazine. Upon its completion I attempted to put Everest out of my mind and get on with my life, but that turned out to be impossible. Through a fog of messy emotions, I continued trying to make sense of what had happened up there, and I obsessively mulled the circumstances of my companions' deaths.The Outside piece was as accurate as I could make it under the circumstances, but my deadline had been unforgiving, the sequence of events had been frustratingly complex, and the memories of the survivors had been badly distorted by exhaustion, oxygen depletion, and shock. At one point during my research I asked three other people to recount an incident all four of us had witnessed high on the mountain, and one of us could agree on such crucial facts as the time, what had been said, or even who had been present. Within days after the Outside article went to press, I discovered that a few of the details I'd reported were in error. Most were minor inaccuracies of the sort that inevitably creep into works of deadline journalism, but one of my blunders was in no sense minor, and it had a devastating impact on the friends and family of one of the victims.Only slightly less disconcerting than the article's factual errors was the material that necessarily had to be omitted for lack of space. Mark Bryant, the editor of Outside, and Larry Burke, the publisher, had given me an extraordinary amount of room to tell the story: they ran the piece at 17,000 words -- four or five times as long as a typical magazine feature. Even so, I felt that it was much too abbreviated to do justice to the tragedy. The Everest climb had rocked my life to its core, and it became desperately important for me to record the events in complete detail, unconstrained by a limited number of column inches. This book is the fruit of that compulsion.The staggering unreliability of the human mind at high altitude made the research problematic. To avoid relying excessively on my own perceptions, I interviewed most of the protagonists at great length and on multiple occasions. When possible I also corroborated details with radio logs maintained by people at Base Camp, where clear thought wasn't in such short supply. Readers familiar with the Outside article may notice discrepancies between certain details (primarily matters of time) reported in the magazine and those reported in the book; the revisions reflect new information that has come to light since publication of the magazine piece.Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it -- mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life.It hasn't, of course. Moreover, I agree that readers are often poorly served when an author writes as an act of catharsis, as I have done here. But I hoped something would be gained by spilling my soul in the calamity's immediate aftermath, in the roil and torment of the moment. I wanted my account to have a raw, ruthless sort of honesty that seemed in danger of leaching away with the passage of time and the dissipation of anguish.Some of the same people who warned me against writing hastily had also cautioned me against going to Everest in the first place. There were many, many fine reasons not to go, but attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act -- a triumph of desire over sensibility. Any person who would seriously consider it is almost by definition beyond the sway of reasoned argument.The plain truth is that I knew better but went to Everest anyway. And in doing so I was a party to the death of good people, which is something that is apt to remain on my conscience for a very long time.

From Our Editors

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top. No one had noticed that the sky had begun to fill with clouds. Six hours later and 3,000 feet lower, in 70-knot winds and blinding snow, Krakauer collapsed in his tent, freezing, hallucinating from exhaustion and hypoxia, but safe. The following morning he learned that six of his fellow climbers hadn't made it back to their camp and were in a desperate struggle for their lives. When the storm finally passed, five of them would be dead, and the sixth so horribly frostbitten that his right hand would have to be amputated. Krakauer examines what it is about Everest that has compelled so many people - including himself - to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense. Written with emotional clarity and supported by his unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer's eye-witness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.

Editorial Reviews

"Into Thin Air ranks among the great adventure books of all time . . . a book of rare eloquence and power that could remain relevant for centuries."
--Galen Rowell, The Wall Street Journal