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#130424 - 03/10/10 11:42 AM Into Thin Air
dolomiti Offline
member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 139
Loc: houston, tx
Yesterday I read Into Thin Air, about a climb to Everest in 1996 and the disaster which ensued. What a great book. I really like Krakauer's style, apparent honesty and humbleness.

I appreciated his afterword where he attempts to explain some of the controversy laid out in The Climb and apologizes for some of the ways he reacted. I agree with Jon...even if you disagree with his recounting, it is a story that needs to be told. Nothing in life is ever remembered or recounted correctly. For evidence of this, just watch Rashomon or read any of the numerous sanctimonious and self-serving political memoir
_________________________
If you go hiking with friends,
there are many plans to coordinate;
if you go hiking alone,
you can leave right now.

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#130431 - 03/10/10 12:21 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: dolomiti]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2411
Loc: California
I am a bit old-school on the new practice of "tell-all" climbing books. Is it a story that "has to be told"? I think most serious climbers already know the risks, contention and for-profit motives in guiding in big mountain expeditions. I agree, the Krakour does a good job at being humble and even handed. Is it a bit hypocritical take this already sensational event and then make huge profits off it? I really do not know.

A friend gave me the newest Ed Viestures book, K2. I have not really been able to pin-point the reason, but that book left a bad taste for me. Much of it I did like - particularly the historical accounts of the earlier attempts. I liked his book "No Shortcuts to the Top" a lot better. Parts of both books, however, left me with a sense of whining too much.

I for one prefer not to dig into the "bad karma" of airing of dirty laundry on big climbs. But then, I prefer Disney movies. I will just go stick my head in the sand and read the old Gaston Rebuffat "On Snow and Rock".

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#130437 - 03/10/10 12:56 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: wandering_daisy]
dolomiti Offline
member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 139
Loc: houston, tx
I do agree with you in regards to "airing-out" what appears to be very bad decisions/bad behavior to someone who is probably reading it with a clear mind in a comfortable chair. From my experiences in the military (nowhere near as nuts as what was going on on Everest), I know people can start doing things that seem otherwise irrational or selfish.

For myself however, who has no aspirations to do anything more technical than Mt. Whitney or Longs Peak, I really enjoy getting my hands on any material related to mountaineering. If books like this weren't put out (warts and all) people like me would know very little about what it is like up there, dare I say that many others may never be inspired to greatness (and start climbing).

I think you have to sit back and be fairly skeptical/critical of anything you read. It is something that can be very difficult for many, including myself. So long as you do that, I encourage others to put their experiences out there to read.
_________________________
If you go hiking with friends,
there are many plans to coordinate;
if you go hiking alone,
you can leave right now.

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#130606 - 03/12/10 06:01 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3913
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Climbing is a very personal an non-altruistic exercise. Climbers simply don't care what people think about them, its between them and them. When pushing yourself to your limits people sometimes break, sometimes go over the limit, or hang over the EDGE and its not real pretty, nor is it meant to be. Like there was a frozen body on the peak of Aconcagua for two years before someone pushed it over the edge, simply because it took extra energy and someone had to care enough. You don't climb for laurels, there are no bouquets waiting for you at the top, you don't get to stand on the podium. All you get is another opportunity to die on the way down. Its all you can do make your own body move, you can't hep anyone else.

BUT if even one of the people who died on Everest on that awful night within 500 feet of camp and safety had a GPS they might all have survived, but then who wants to carry the extra weight?
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#130685 - 03/14/10 01:58 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: dolomiti]
PerryMK Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1072
Loc: Florida panhandle
I received this book as a gift and it sat on a shelf for 2 or 3 years before I actually read it. I usually prefer books on how to do things, not stories. That has been changing a little over the past couple of years. So I read this book when it was still a bit out of character for me to read such a book.

I found it a compelling read. I don't have mountaineering aspirations or strong feelings about whether others should and this book did nothing to change my feelings one way or the other.

I didn't read reviews of the book until after I'd read it myself. Some of the criticisms seemed to me to amount to arm chair quarterbacks with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. I'm not saying the actions of all invovled were necessarily the best; I'm just saying I don't know what the best actions would have been and I'm not sure it's appropriate to judge too harshly without being in that situation.

I recall reading something that I think was by Jon Krakauer but I'm not sure. In it he talks about a climb in Alaska where he is tent bound and chain smoking. I had always envisioned climbers as being somewhat fit as a necessity. Of course I know in the military there are some very fit individuals who smoke. Why this is the nugget of information that sticks with me I don't know. I'm not a smoker but I'm not a militant anti-smoker either. I feel adults can make their own decisions, whether it's to climb mountains or to smoke cigarettes.






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#130709 - 03/14/10 09:34 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: dolomiti]
Swimswithtrout Offline
member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 48
Loc: Colorado
The Everest accident was a huge FUBAR of mistakes upon mistakes. Krakower is a not exactly a disinterested reporter.


Touching the Void is a far more factual recount of a climbing accident.


Nobody has written a novel or made a movie of my long time climbing partner Malcolm Daly's accident in AK. Here's his own verbal account http://www.trango.com/stories/mal_accident.pdf



Malcolm is on the left, me on the right in this photo from '76 on our first trip to Yosemite.

Writers have other motivations besides serving up the truth. If they didn't they'd be journalists.


Edited by Swimswithtrout (03/14/10 09:39 PM)
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#130822 - 03/16/10 06:15 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: PerryMK]
dolomiti Offline
member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 139
Loc: houston, tx
Originally Posted By: PerryMK
I recall reading something that I think was by Jon Krakauer but I'm not sure. In it he talks about a climb in Alaska where he is tent bound and chain smoking. I had always envisioned climbers as being somewhat fit as a necessity. Of course I know in the military there are some very fit individuals who smoke. Why this is the nugget of information that sticks with me I don't know. I'm not a smoker but I'm not a militant anti-smoker either. I feel adults can make their own decisions, whether it's to climb mountains or to smoke cigarettes.


He talks about climbing the Devil's Thumb in Into the Wild and Eiger Dreams. He also attempted and failed to climb Eiger Nordwald. Apparently he is not a climbing novice, but did not have high altitude experience.



I thought the same when he talked about the smoking in the tent, but after crossing the icefield/glacier and thinking he was nearly dead on the mountain before finally climbing it, I image I would have smoked the same (and I don't smoke).


Edited by dolomiti (03/16/10 06:16 PM)
_________________________
If you go hiking with friends,
there are many plans to coordinate;
if you go hiking alone,
you can leave right now.

Top
#130823 - 03/16/10 06:17 PM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: Swimswithtrout]
dolomiti Offline
member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 139
Loc: houston, tx
Originally Posted By: Swimswithtrout
The Everest accident was a huge FUBAR of mistakes upon mistakes. Krakower is a not exactly a disinterested reporter.


Touching the Void is a far more factual recount of a climbing accident.


Nobody has written a novel or made a movie of my long time climbing partner Malcolm Daly's accident in AK. Here's his own verbal account http://www.trango.com/stories/mal_accident.pdf



Malcolm is on the left, me on the right in this photo from '76 on our first trip to Yosemite.

Writers have other motivations besides serving up the truth. If they didn't they'd be journalists.


That picture is awesome.
_________________________
If you go hiking with friends,
there are many plans to coordinate;
if you go hiking alone,
you can leave right now.

Top
#130950 - 03/19/10 01:55 AM Re: Into Thin Air [Re: Swimswithtrout]
kevonionia Offline
member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1313
Loc: Priest Lake, ID
swt:

Thanks for passing along that link to that story. Will make a great read during the snowstorm tomorrow in Denver. Great photo, too.

_________________________
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)


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