Review: Into Thin Air

The book in question.

This was a hard read. And I mean that in several ways. The first third of the book is the set up. So many names and dates and explanations. The book comes with a list of names of everyone involved, right at the start of the book. This part is necessary, for sure, but very dense. Perhaps more so because I knew what was coming and my nerves were on edge for that.

The next third was the ascension. This was hard because of knowing what came next, for one. But as the climbers went higher and higher, Krakauer’s description of the thin air made it hard for me to breathe. Me, someone with plenty of oxygen in my vicinity. While I have read many books that have made me feel a great many things, I can’t recall one taking my literal breath away. Gasp? Sure. But I had to remind myself to take some deep breaths, that I was indeed getting the air I needed.

Then came the disaster and the fallout and it wasn’t much easier to breathe then. How anyone could have managed during such a thing is beyond me. That people could be angry with the survivors? The hypoxic and frostbitten and fatigued beyond their bones? That made me angry. A lot of things went wrong and it was no single person’s fault. I could probably write a paper about fault and blame, but that’s not the point.

There really aren’t spoilers for this book. It is a real event that happened in the 90s. I could point people to resources that say who lived and who died and what is on official reports, but that wouldn’t be the same. At the heart of it, this book is about what people dream and that knowledge of the sacrifices that might be required will never be the same as living them.

“I tried to get Yasuko on her feet. She grabbed my arm, but she was too weak to get up past her knees. I started walking, and dragged her for a step or two, then her grip loosened and she fell away. I had to keep going. Somebody had to make it to the tents and get help or everybody was going to die.”

Beidleman paused. “But I can’t help thinking about Yasuko,” he said when he resumed, his voice hushed. “She was so little. I can still feel her fingers sliding across my biceps, and then letting go. I never even turned to look back.”

Neal Beidleman, as recalled by Jon Krakauer in his personal account of the Mt. Everest disaster, Into Thin Air

In other news, I am back! I will be posting my reviews, as I get back into the swing of writing again (reasons for not a topic I don’t need to get into other than saying HEALTH).



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