Jon Krakauer is the author of three books, including Eiger Dreams and the acclaimed bestseller Into the Wild. He is also the contributing editor of Outside magazine. He and his wife live in Seattle Into thin Air is a great adventure story about Jon Krakauer’s ascend of Mt. Everest. Krakauer was a member of Rob Hall’s “Adventure Consultants” expedition that was going to attempt the summit of Everest on May 10, 1996.
One major theme of this book is the importance of trust and teamwork, reliance on your partner.
The story starts out with a brief history of Mt Everest. It was in 1852 in the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India when the highest mountain in the world was discovered. The mountain was first dubbed Peak XV; the first measured height of the mountain was 29,002. This measurement would later prove to be inaccurate; throughout the use of modern lasers and satellite data pictures, the actual height of the mountain was determined to be 29,029 ft.
In 1865, Peak XV was named Mt. Everest after the late general surveyor Sir George Everest. It would take 101 years for the mountain’s summit to be climbed.
The first man to reach the summit was Edmund Hillary, later knighted by the Queen for his feat. May 29, 1953, Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing were the first men to stand on top of the world. Jon was offered a place on an upcoming Everest expedition by his publisher, Outside (a climbing magazine), to cover a story about the commercialization of Everest.
Jon had always dreamed about climbing Everest ever since he was a child, now he had a chance. Jon didn’t realize that this trip was going to be one that would bring him closer to death than he had ever been before. The spring of 1996 would turn out to be the most murderous season in the mountain’s history. That spring claimed the lives of 12 climbers, a spring that will be remembered for many years to come.
Prompted by the proliferation of guided trips promising that any reasonably fit person could make it to the top of the world, Krakauer — an accomplished outdoorsman and technical climber, but with little experience at high altitude — jumped at the chance to attempt this mountaineering grail. Disaster struck on summit day when a blinding, whiteout storm caught four groups on top of the mountain, claiming the lives of nine climbers, including Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, two of the most renowned guides/climbers in the business.
Krakauer, through a combination of luck, skill, and discipline, was fortunate enough to survive, though the experience extracted a heavy psychic toll. Immediately, the tragedy at 29,000 feet became the focus of intense worldwide media observation, and the cause for much soul searching within the mountaineering community.