Into Thin Air

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National Bestseller 

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight into what went wrong. But for Krakauer himself, further interviews and investigations only lead him to the conclusion that his perceived failures were directly responsible for a fellow climber's death. Clearly, Krakauer remains haunted by the disaster, and although he relates a number of incidents in which he acted selflessly and even heroically, he seems unable to view those instances objectively. In the end, despite his evenhanded and even generous assessment of others' actions, he reserves a full measure of vitriol for himself.

This updated edition of Into Thin Air includes an extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev in the wake of the tragedy.  "I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in the postscript, dated August 1999. "What disturbs me, though, was Boukreev's refusal to acknowledge the possibility that he made even a single poor decision. Never did he indicate that perhaps it wasn't the best choice to climb without gas or go down ahead of his clients." As usual, Krakauer supports his points with dogged research and a good dose of humility. But rather than continue the heated discourse that has raged since Into Thin Air's denouncement of guide Boukreev, Krakauer's tone is conciliatory; he points most of his criticism at G. Weston De Walt, who coauthored The Climb, Boukreev's version of events. And in a touching conclusion, Krakauer recounts his last conversation with the late Boukreev, in which the two weathered climbers agreed to disagree about certain points. Krakauer had great hopes to patch things up with Boukreev, but the Russian later died in an avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I.

In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious prize intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment."  According to the Academy's citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.  His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."
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In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his  cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life.  Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris.  He is said  to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity , and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's stoytelling blaze through every page.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Anchor
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Published on
Nov 12, 1998
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780679462712
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Adventurers & Explorers
Biography & Autobiography / Editors, Journalists, Publishers
Travel / Special Interest / Adventure
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Edmund Hillary – A Biography is the story of the New Zealand beekeeper who climbed Mount Everest. A man who against expedition orders drove his tractor to the South Pole; a man honoured around the world for his pioneering climbs yet who collapsed on more than one occasion on a mountain, and a man who gave so much to Nepal yet lost his family to its mountains.

The author, Michael Gill, was a close friend of Hillary’s for nearly 50 years, accompanying him on many expeditions and becoming heavily involved in Hillary’s aid work building schools and hospitals in the Himalaya. During the writing of this book, Gill was granted access to a large archive of private papers and photos that were deposited in the Auckland museum after Hillary’s death in 2008. Building on this unpublished material, as well as his extensive personal experience, Michael Gill profiles a man whose life was shaped by both triumph and tragedy.

Gill describes the uncertainties of the first 33 years of Hillary’s life, during which time he served in the New Zealand air force during the Second World War, as well as the background to the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953, when Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit – a feat that brought the pair instant worldwide fame. He reveals the loving relationship Hillary had with his wife Louise, in part through their touching letters to each other. Her importance to him during their 22 years of marriage only underlines the horror of her death, along with that of their youngest daughter, Belinda, in a plane crash in 1975. Hillary eventually pulled out of his subsequent depression to continue his life’s work in the Himalaya.

Affectionate, but scrupulously fair, in Edmund Hillary – A Biography Michael Gill has gone further than anyone before to reveal the humanity of this remarkable man.

With a new preface by the author • As featured in the upcoming motion picture Everest, starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Jake Gyllenhaal
 
“I can tell you that some force within me rejected death at the last moment and then guided me, blind and stumbling—quite literally a dead man walking—into camp and the shaky start of my return to life.”
 
In 1996 Beck Weathers and a climbing team pushed toward the summit of Mount Everest. Then a storm exploded on the mountain, ripping the team to shreds, forcing brave men to scratch and crawl for their lives. Rescuers who reached Weathers saw that he was dying, and left him. Twelve hours later, the inexplicable occurred. Weathers appeared, blinded, gloveless, and caked with ice—walking down the mountain. In this powerful memoir, now featuring a new Preface, Weathers describes not only his escape from hypothermia and the murderous storm that killed eight climbers, but the journey of his life. This is the story of a man’s route to a dangerous sport and a fateful expedition, as well as the road of recovery he has traveled since; of survival in the face of certain death, the reclaiming of a family and a life; and of the most extraordinary adventure of all: finding the courage to say yes when life offers us a second chance.
 
Praise for Left for Dead
 
“Riveting . . . [a] remarkable survival story . . . Left for Dead takes a long, critical look at climbing: Weathers is particularly candid about how the demanding sport altered and strained his relationships.”—USA Today
 
“Ultimately, this engrossing tale depicts the difficulty of a man’s struggle to reform his life.”—Publishers Weekly
May 1996 began like most other climbing seasons on Mount Everest. The arrival of spring brought the usual pre-monsoon period, with teams of hopeful mountaineers ready to reach for the roof of the world. Among the dozens of climbers were Jon Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev (who would both later write their own accounts of what followed) and Matt Dickinson. But on May 10, with ten different expeditions strung out along the mountain, the usual turned deadly. Suddenly, the temperature dropped from merely frigid to 40 degrees below zero. A killer storm with howling winds swept in and climbers were soon blinded in white-out conditions. Before it was over, the blizzard would claim a dozen lives, the worst loss of life in the modern history of climbing on Everest.

Dickinson, an adventure filmmaker, was part of an expedition challenging the treacherous North Face of Everest, on the Tibetan side. Of the nearly 700 people who have scaled Everest since the first ascent in 1953, barely 230 have managed to ascend via the colder and technically more difficult route up the North Face. In addition to climbing through the storm, which would test him beyond his imagining, Dickinson also filmed the ascent. He and his team watched in awe as violent clouds gathered over the mountain and swept them all up in a frightening white force. Dickinson was a relative novice who had never climbed at this crushing altitude, and the storm preyed on his mind, throwing into question his entire mission. Despite this uncertainty and the treacherous conditions, Dickinson and his partner Alan Hinkes continued their climb, compelled to reach the summit.

Dickinson's first-person narrative--the only account of the killer storm written by a climber who was on the North Face--places the reader amid the swirl of the catastrophe, while providing rare insight into the very essence of mountaineering. The Other Side of Everest is a portrait of personal triumph set against the most disastrous storm to ever befall the world mountaineering community. Anyone who has ever pushed beyond familiar limits of physical and psychological endurance will cherish this book.  
‘If we were guaranteed success in everything we tried then life would be pretty boring.’

Mainstream news reports about climbing are dominated by action from the world’s highest mountains, more often than not focusing on tragedy and controversy. Far removed from this high-altitude circus, a group of visionary and specialist mountaineers are seeking out eye-catching objectives in the most remote corners of the greater ranges and attempting first ascents in lightweight style.

Mick Fowler is the master of the small and remote Himalayan expedition. He has been at the forefront of this pioneering approach to alpinism for over thirty years, balancing his family life, a full-time job at the tax office and his annual trips to the greater ranges in order to attempt mountains that may never have been seen before by Westerners, let alone climbed by them.

In No Easy Way, his third volume of climbing memoirs following Vertical Pleasure and On Thin Ice, Fowler recounts a series of expeditions to stunning mountains in China, India, Nepal and Tibet. Alongside partners including Paul Ramsden, Dave Turnbull, Andy Cave and Victor Saunders, he attempts striking, technically challenging unclimbed lines on Shiva, Gave Ding and Mugu Chuli – with a number of ascents winning prestigious Piolets d’Or, the Oscars of the mountaineering world.

Written with his customary dry wit and understatement, he manages challenges away – the art of securing a permit for Tibet – and at home – his duties as Alpine Club president – all the while pursuing his passion for exploratory mountaineering.

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his  cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life.  Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris.  He is said  to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity , and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's stoytelling blaze through every page.
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