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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

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Philip Franklin

9 Hours 7 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

January 1997

Audio Book Summary

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven 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, twenty 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 bestseller 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, thirty-five-year-old New Zealander, Hall had summited Everest four times between 1990 and 1995 and had led thirty-nine climbers to the top. Ascending the mountain in close proximity to Hall's team was a guided expedition led by Scott Fischer, a forty-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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  • Tom fromLafayette

    This is the gold standard of non-fiction adventure. You can picture the mountain, the terrain, and what a toll it takes on the climbers. As you listen, you can't help asking why people are compelled to pay tens of thousands of dollars to put themselves in a postion to suffer and die in the most inhospitable place on earth....logic simply does not enter the equation. I highly recommend this monumental epic.

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  • Anonymous

    Excellent narration and book describing an eye witness account of a complex true tragedy

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  • Liza

    Do not climb the Everest, it can kill you. Anywhere with high altitude and insufficient oxygen is a life risking place. Think a million times when you pay a company that you are planning to trust with your life in stake. You have just one life, and they are probably going to screw up and cut some corners. Lack of responsibility, stupidity, ego, selfishness, cutting corners, and arrogance, can get people into big trouble. Mix it with enough bad luck and a peak of the highest mountain in the world, and you'll get a disaster. See full review here:

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  • Anonymous

    This book was great! I couldn't wait to get back into my car to listen to it. All of Jon Kranauer's books are interesting and this is no excpetion.

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  • Eric Ervin

    Fantastic book. Krakauer has such a way with words. If you have any interest in a tale of adventure you simply must read this book.

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  • Joli Nestor

    After seeing a documentary on what goes into attempting to climb Mt. Everest, I have become fascinated. This book does a great job higlighting the dangers people face. It is a true life account of what a volitile place Mt. Everst can be. When man attempts to conqeur the mountain, you are at her mercy. Although I thought the book started off a little slowly, I realized that was only due to my anticipation of what was about to happen to the people involved. I though it was a fabulous book, and well written. I would recommend doing some follow up research on what has happened to the people in this story since this tragic event. It is interesting to say the least.

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  • William Morgan

    This book left me in jaw dropping awe, a truely amazing and unimagineable tale. It had me on the internet looking for additional information on the true life story for days after I finished it. I wish I could have rented the unabridged version, but I can't imagine how it could be better. The author/reader's telling of his real life adventure was great. If I ever had an inclination to go mountain climbing, I'm having second thoughts now. Don't miss it!

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  • Jessica Campbell

    This book had me late for every appointment the entire time it was in my car. In audio book land when you listen in your car, this is the equivalent to “I just couldn’t put it down.” It’s riveting! It’s really all encompassing and at times quite emotionally draining. Well read, well written this book takes you to Mt. Everest and pulls you into the devastating events of May 10, 1996. You’ll feel as if you know every person like you were there. Be ware, this book is not for people looking to experience the joy of climbing mountains and slapping backs and being triumphant. I finished the last disc sobbing in my driveway for the horrible loss of life, and subsequently spent hours on the internet trying to find answers to questions that I guess we’ll never know.

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  • Rosette

    I had heard great things about this book, and I was not disappointed. Seemed honest and balanced account of the expedition that was so widely publicized after it turned disastrous.

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  • Nicole Reid

    A gripping, exciting, amazing tale of pushing human physical and emotional limits. I was enthralled by this book and would recommend it to anyone. This book is a paradox of terror and inspiration.

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