Monday, March 7, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #9 - Into Thin Air

I read "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer on the recommendation of a coworker. I had just finished reading "In the Path of an Avalanche" and while I enjoyed it I wasn't really looking forward to reading another another snowy disaster tale. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself engrossed into this book. Krakaurer's style allowed me to easily imagine myself among the climbers on the ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition.

One of my pet peeves with mountaineering tales lies in that they simply relay the drama and difficulty of the ascent and downplay or ignore the challenges that lie in the descent. This book relays both, but the tragedy strikes during the descent and many lives are lost.

Krakauer was sent to Everest as part of a paid expedition team to report on the growing number of companies taking people up the mountain for a profit and the pros and cons of such practices. I never gave much thought to the reality of this, the environmental damage, and the pressure on the owners of these companies to get their clients to the top, even at every one's risk.

Towards the end, the book relays that one group actually admitted that they walked right past a group that was close to death since they didn't want to jeopardize their summit attempt. I can see both sides to that argument, however I would think that being able to tell the tale of saving lives might be better than living with the guilt of letting someone die that you could have helped rescue.

All in all, "Into Thin Air" was an excellent read, that gave me many things to think about after reading. I am already reading another of Krakauer's works and I look forward to reading more in the future.

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