Into Thin Air – Review

I have never read a non-fiction which was literally unputdownable, the way this book was. I just couldnt keep it aside for a minute and finished reading it in 2 days! I dont remember finishing a non-fiction that fast. Now it is one of my all-time favourites.

MUST READ if you like travelling.

Genre: Non-fiction, Travel, Adventure
Author: Jon Krakauer


Synopsis: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…

This is a first hand account of a disaster that took place in 1996 during ascent of Mt. Everest.

I love to travel and I am adventurous at heart (even though I have never done anything adventurous in my life). As a result, I reallyyyyy liked this book.

“In order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die”

– a quote from the book.

Lot of reasons for liking it: 

  • History of ascents to Mount Everest was interesting.
  • I love the way he goes into details. He described each and every member of the various expeditions. He told us exactly what sort of a person he/she was, what kind of mountaineering background they had which kind of helped in understanding them.
  • I love the way he gave minute details of the ascent. His book made me realize it was no joke to climb Everest. Each and every challenge they faced at every level would help people understand how difficult it is to scale such a mountain.


Taken from:

  • He talked a lot about the various illnesses or ailments one can face when they are at such a high altitude. HACE and HAPE were something new that I was not aware of earlier.
  • Hats off to brave men : Rob Hall and Andy Harris, who risked their lives to save Doug. Rob’s death was very hard to digest. Comparing them with the Japanese team which did not bother to help anyone, makes them kind of heroes eh?
  • He talks about the IMAX team’s expedition too. I watched the IMAX video before reading the book and had a fair idea of what happened. They even showed Beck in the video. Even though I knew a lot about the disaster before reading the book, Jon had me engrossed with his great narration.
  • Descent was so scary that even though I knew what happened, I wished that not many must lose their lives.
  • Author’s own feelings add weight to the story. Having climbed mountains earlier, he still feels uncertain about getting down safely. This clearly shows how bad the situation was up there.
  • One can easily imagine how high the summit is and how difficult it is to reach Everest’s summit by reading this book.
  • I guess it is all about fate though. Nothing is in our hands. Beck survived which itself was surprising to everyone and Hall who could have survived did not.

One thing I learnt after reading this episode is that – anything can happen, anything can go bad even though it has been meticulously planned ahead of time once you are at such a high altitude. So one has to always take a risk when they go mountaineering.

Jon says this which is so true –

“The strongest guides in the world are sometimes powerless to save even their own lives”

“Climbing mountains will never be a safe, predictable, rule-bound enterprise”

Do watch Nova’s Everest: The Death Zone if you get a chance. It was a nice episode on Mt. Everest.

12 thoughts on “Into Thin Air – Review

Add yours

  1. Q: Why do people tie each other with a rope when they climb mountains?
    A: To prevent the sensible ones from going home 😛

    I would travel to anywhere on the land. But I feel that mountains and seas are too exhaustive. Looks like an interesting book, might read in future.

    Destination Infinity


  2. I am in the middle of this book and non-fiction implores me to research about the book. I came across another book called ‘The Climb’ which presents a different viewpoint of the same incident. I would also recommend ‘Miracle in the Andes’ by Nando Parrando.


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