I’ve been getting into the outdoors more and more recently, and had started toying with the idea of getting outdoors more even during the winter months; winter camping, mountaineering, ice climbing perhaps – much more “extreme” pursuits than my normal fare. So, I picked up a copy of Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer as my first step; surprisingly, reading about the deadly expedition on Mt. Everest only increased my interest.
So, I should temper my review with the fact that I was deeply interested in the subject matter. I wouldn’t recommend this as light reading to everybody. But the book goes beyond a simple day-by-day narrative of the events that unfolded, including a portrait of the people that undertake these expeditions, and what motivates them.
I certainly don’t have any intentions of trying anything nearly as hard as climbing Mt. Everest. I did gain a lot of respect for the sport, and admire the intense desire and determination of everyone involved. I also realized they were all completely insane for not turning back. But, it did make me wonder what my limits were – what dangers am I wiling to deal with? How far could I push myself? The experience was made much more vivid by the author’s inclusion of his own shortcomings and mistakes; how much he struggled, his doubts of his companions, and his own state of confusion when he ran out of oxygen.
Its not for everybody, but Into Thin Air is more than just a step-by-step for those planning (or dreaming of) their own trip up Everest. Its a good read for anyone interested in the power of nature, and the human ability to endure.