Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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 57 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, 20 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 best seller 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, 35-year-old New Zealander, Hall had summited Everest four times between 1990 and 1995 and had led 39 climbers to the top. Ascending the mountain in close proximity to Hall's team was a guided expedition led by Scott Fischer, a 40-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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|Listening Length||9 hours and 8 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 27, 1998|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #1,108 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Travel Writing & Commentary
#2 in Adventure Travel (Audible Books & Originals)
#3 in Adventurers, Explorers & Survival Biographies
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Top reviews from the United States
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Wish i hadnt gotten his book and wonder why anyone in their right mind would think Krakauer is any more believable than others.
Krakauer saved 0, Anatoli saved 3.
Math is math, numbers dont lie. People do.
However, I must note that the book itself - or rather, the Outlook article which was responsible for Krakauer's presence on this expedition in the first place - is the real reason so many people died on the mountain that day. Had the expedition leaders not been competing for the attention of Outlook readers, this probably would not have happened; they were seasoned veterans of the mountain and would not, I am sure, made such an elementary mistake as not turning back by the agreed hour. This proved fatal for several people. Krakauer, to his eternal shame, tried to blame this debacle on the other group's Russian guide. Who, as he admits, went out in a blizzard on his own to save his clients and brought them down single-handed. And showed a lot more empathy than Krakauer himself.
That said, I have read no book on mountaineering that better describes the emotions and physical sensations of being in this punishing environment. f you want a powerful 'Rashomon' tale for our times, read this book in tandem with Anatoli Boukreev's /Weston DeWalt's The Climb. They depict the same story but with a very different perspective, and the story itself never gets anything less than fascinating.
However, I rated this as three star simply because I feel the author is condescending and snobby. Yes, he climbed the mountain and very few people will ever even see it, much less climb it.
But I just walked away thinking he thinks he’s better than everyone else. Now that the adventure is over, i understand it might be difficult to get back to normal life, but I just didn’t think he was someone I’d care to talk to at a party.
Top reviews from other countries
To his credit Krakauer does not shy away from his own mistakes and responsibilities, though does reinforce the ever person for themselves attitude that he also decries. There is speculation about motives and actions that he could not have been party to, but they do not necessarily feel unreasonable. There is tragedy with this, in his mistaken reporting of Harold being alive and then in the way he likely does, causing more pain for the family, but this was done with the best of intentions.
Not a justification of action, or inaction, but an explanation, one that is perhaps hard to completely accept without the experience of being above 8,000m, but is nonetheless compelling and convincing.
Critical of the lack of relevant climbing experience of the other members of the group, his own does not seem that impressive for the scale of challenge presented by Everest.
Self reflective, and enlightening, the reader cannot help but feel drawn to the personalities as the tragedy unfolds, and poor decision making compounds to big impacts.
A must read for anyone who wants to understand more about the 1996 tragedy.
For me, this book helped me understand why people enjoy 'extreme' mountaineering and did explain the draw Everest has on people. I actually found the history of it - from being named the tallest mountain on Earth, to her naming and the repeated attempts to summit, really interesting.
As to whether this book and the film accurately portray the disaster... I will say the film mostly matches this book, and the author makes it clear that this is how he viewed the events, that he was not operating at peak efficiency and that a lot of people made small mistakes which added up to make the disaster.
The book is well written, and for the most part is measured. It mixes analytical with personal to great effect. Though it isn't a happy read it is an interesting one and I'd recommend this to people interested in the film, the mountain, or the sport of climbing.
Peppered throughout are references to mountaineers of yore which had me going down the Wikipedia rabbit hole more than once. Although climbing Everest isn't on my bucket list, I find stories of how people push themselves to their physical and mental limits compelling and inspiring. However, Krakauer's account of what happened on May 10 and how four climbers from his team tragically came to lose their lives - the crux of this book - was of course difficult to read.
Much has been made of his criticism of Sandy Pittman and Anatoli Boukreev, but I felt his portrayal of both of them was on the whole handled fairly. Many on the mountain that day made poor decisions in extreme circumstances that led to the final outcome. Krakauer himself doesn't shy away from his own culpability, although it clearly haunts him and must have been painful to write about publicly. If I were to have any criticism of this book, it would be that Krakauer's perception of his abilities and that of others came across at times as hubristic. Whilst I don't refute that many - too many - people attempt Everest without qualified experience (and the mountain has claimed many of those lives), the way Krakauer writes about his own abilities versus that of others felt a little arrogant to me. I also got a little lost later in the book on who was who, which left me puzzled for a while. However neither of these points detract from the fact that this book well and truly got under my skin.
I don't give five stars often and I'm not the most avid reader of non-fiction, but this has been one of my surprise reads this year and I would read it again. I'm considering reading Beck Weathers' book now - that truly is a story of survival.
After the first half of the book there are two passages where it is apparent that Mr Krakauer was so focussed on ticking off his bucket list for Everest that, in his self centered, parochial view he actually left behind two of his fellow climbers to their own fate on the mountain when they desperately needed his help. One of them died and the other (who was snowblind) lost half of his face and limbs to frostbite.
As far as Mr Boukreev is concerned, he was a climber par excellence who commanded respect from his peers. Even Mr Krakauer has acknowledged this on page 130 (of the pan macmillan edition I'm reading) ..... " but four luminaries stood out even in this distinguished company-- climbers who demonstrated such astonishing prowess above 26000 feet that they were in a league of their own: Ed Viesturs, the American who was starring in the IMAX film; Anatoli Boukreev, a guide from Kazakhstan working for Fischer; Ang Babu Sherpa, who was employed by the South African expedition ; and Lopsang."
I'd like to point out here that while Mr Krakauer grants Mr. Boukreev certain strength, his characterisation (of Boukreev) is vastly sketchy and criticisms factually unfounded.
Now picture this: imagine a place that tries your endurance like no other place does. A place where you're fragile, vulnerable and weak both physically and mentally. Now imagine a paid gun who, like it or not follows you like a shadow and scribbles away your life for millions to read of HIS version of what HE makes of you when you're at your lowest--this is not only weird but IMHO morally wrong as well. I'd definitely freak out if it happened to me.
It goes without saying that Boukreev was a pure climber with immense strength of character and fortitude who did not have writing assignments, book sales, critical acclaim from peers or a soaring bank balance in mind when he wore his pair of trekking shoes. In fact he died pursuing his passion. God bless his soul.