Click here to Download Into Thin Air PDF Book by Jon Krakauer Language English having PDF Size 1.4 MB and No of Pages 300.
I understood on some dim, detached level that the sweep of earth beneath my feet was a spectacular sight. I’d been fantasizing about this moment, and the release of emotion that would accompany it, for many months. But now that I was finally here, actually standing on the summit of Mount Everest, I just couldn’t summon the energy to care. It was early in the afternoon of May 10, 1996.
Into Thin Air PDF Book by Jon Krakauer
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I hadn’t slept in fiftyseven hours. The only food I’d been able to force down over the preceding three days was a bowl of ramen soup and a handful of peanut M&Ms. Weeks of violent coughing had left me with two separated ribs that made ordinary breathing an excruciating trial. At 29,028 feet up in the troposphere, so little oxygen was reaching my brain that my mental capacity was that of a slow child.
Under the circumstances, I was incapable of feeling much of anything except cold and tired. I’d arrived on the summit a few minutes after Anatoli Boukreev, a Russian climbing guide working for an American commercial expedition, and just ahead of Andy Harris, a guide on the New Zealand–based team to which I belonged.
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Although I was only slightly acquainted with Boukreev, I’d come to know and like Harris well during the preceding six weeks. I snapped four quick photos of Harris and Boukreev striking summit poses, then turned and headed down. My watch read 1:17 P.M. All told, I’d spent less than five minutes on the roof of the world.
A moment later, I paused to take another photo, this one looking down the Southeast Ridge, the route we had ascended. Training my lens on a pair of climbers approaching the summit, I noticed something that until that moment had escaped my attention. To the south, where the sky had been perfectly clear just an hour earlier, a blanket of clouds now hid Pumori.
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Ama Dablam, and the other lesser peaks surrounding Everest. Later—after six bodies had been located, after a search for two others had been abandoned, after surgeons had amputated the gangrenous right hand of my teammate Beck Weathers—people would ask why, if the weather had begun to deteriorate, had climbers on the upper mountain not heeded the signs?
Why did veteran Himalayan guides keep moving upward, ushering a gaggle of relatively inexperienced amateurs—each of whom had paid as much as $65,000 to be taken safely up Everest—into an apparent death trap? In 1865, nine years after Sikhdar’s computations had been confirmed, Waugh bestowed the name Mount Everest on Peak XV, in honor of Sir George Everest, his predecessor as surveyor general.
As it happened, Tibetans who lived to the north of the great mountain already had a more mellifluous name for it, Jomolungma, which translates to “goddess, mother of the world,” and Nepalis who resided to the south reportedly called the peak Deva-dhunga, “Seat of God.”† But Waugh pointedly chose to ignore these native appellations (as well as official policy encouraging the retention of local or ancient names. Into Thin Air PDF Book
And Everest was the name that stuck. Once Everest was determined to be the highest summit on earth, it was only a matter of time before people decided that Everest needed to be climbed. After the American explorer Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole in 1909 and Roald Amundsen led a Norwegian party to the South Pole in 1911.
Everest—the so-called Third Pole—became the most coveted object in the realm of terrestrial exploration. Getting to the top, proclaimed Gunther O. Dyrenfurth, an influential alpinist and chronicler of early Himalayan mountaineering, was “a matter of universal human endeavor, a cause from which there is no withdrawal, whatever losses it may demand.”
Those losses, as it turned out, would not be insignificant. Following Sikhdar’s discovery in 1852, it would require the lives of twenty-four men, the efforts of fifteen expeditions, and the passage of 101 years before the summit of Everest would finally be attained. Hall had for some years been an avid hill walker; about the same time he went to work for Alp Sports, he took up rock and ice climbing as well. Into Thin Air PDF Book
He was a fast learner, says Atkinson, who became Hall’s most frequent climbing partner, “with the ability to soak up skills and attitudes from anybody.” In 1980, when Hall was nineteen, he joined an expedition that climbed the demanding North Ridge of Ama Dablam, a 22,294-foot peak of incomparable beauty fifteen miles south of Everest.
During that trip, Hall’s first to the Himalaya, he made a side excursion to Everest Base Camp and resolved that one day he would climb the world’s highest mountain. It required ten years and three attempts, but in May 1990, Hall finally reached the summit of Everest as the leader of an expedition that included Peter Hillary, the son of Sir Edmund.
On the summit Hall and Hillary made a radio transmission that was broadcast live throughout New Zealand, and at 29,028 feet received congratulations from Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer. By this time Hall was a full-time professional climber. Like most of his peers, he sought funding from corporate sponsors to pay for his expensive Himalayan expeditions. Into Thin Air PDF Book
And he was savvy enough to understand that the more attention he got from the news media, the easier it would be to coax corporations to open their checkbooks. As it happened, he proved to be extremely adept at getting his name into print and his mug on the telly. “Yeah,” Atkinson allows, “Rob always did have a bit of a flair for publicity.”
The first six days of the trek went by in an ambrosial blur. The trail took us past glades of juniper and dwarf birch, blue pine and rhododendron, thundering waterfalls, enchanting boulder gardens, burbling streams. The Valkyrian skyline bristled with peaks that I’d been reading about since I was a child.
Because most of our gear was carried by yaks and human porters, my own backpack held little more than a jacket, a few candy bars, and my camera. Unburdened and unhurried, caught up in the simple joy of walking in exotic country, I fell into a kind of trance—but the euphoria seldom lasted for long. Sooner or later I’d remember where I was headed. Into Thin Air PDF Book Download
And the shadow Everest cast across my mind would snap me back to attention. We all trekked at our own pace, pausing often for refreshment at trailside teahouses and to chat with passersby. I frequently found myself traveling in the company of Doug Hansen, the postal worker, and Andy Harris, Rob Hall’s laid-back junior guide.
Andy—called “Harold” by Rob and all his Kiwi friends—was a big, sturdy lad, built like an NFL quarterback, with rugged good looks of the sort that earn men roles in cigarette advertisements. During the antipodal winter he was employed as a much-in-demand helicopter-skiing guide. Summers he worked for scientists conducting geologic research in Antarctica or escorted climbers into New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
As we walked up the trail Andy spoke longingly of the woman with whom he lived, a physician named Fiona McPherson. As we rested on a rock he pulled a picture out of his pack to show me. She was tall, blond, athletic-looking. Andy said he and Fiona were in the midst of building a house together in the hills outside of Queenstown. Into Thin Air PDF Book Download
Waxing ardent about the uncomplicated pleasures of sawing rafters and pounding nails, Andy admitted that when Rob had first offered him this Everest job he’d been ambivalent about accepting it: “It was quite hard to leave Fi and the house, actually. We’d only just gotten the roof on, yeah? But how can you turn down a chance to climb Everest?
Especially when you have an opportunity to work alongside somebody like Rob Hall.” Above the comforts of Base Camp, the expedition in fact became an almost Calvinistic undertaking. The ratio of misery to pleasure was greater by an order of magnitude than any other mountain I’d been on; I quickly came to understand that climbing Everest was primarily about enduring pain.
And in subjecting ourselves to week after week of toil, tedium, and suffering, it struck me that most of us were probably seeking, above all else, something like a state of grace. Of course for some Everesters myriad other, less virtuous motives came into play as well: minor celebrity, career advancement, ego massage, ordinary bragging rights, filthy lucre. Into Thin Air PDF Book Download
But such ignoble enticements were less a factor than many critics might presume. Indeed, what I observed as the weeks went by forced me to substantially revise my presuppositions about some of my teammates. Take Beck Weathers, for instance, who at that moment appeared as a tiny red speck on the ice 500 feet below, near the end of a long queue of climbers.
My first impression of Beck had not been favorable: a backslapping Dallas pathologist with less-than-mediocre mountaineering skills, at first blush he came across as a rich Republican blowhard looking to buy the summit of Everest for his trophy case. Yet the better I got to know him, the more he earned my respect.
Even though his inflexible new boots had chewed his feet into hamburger, Beck kept hobbling upward, day in and day out, scarcely mentioning what must have been horrific pain. He was tough, driven, stoic. And what I initially took to be arrogance was looking more and more like exuberance. The man seemed to bear no ill will toward anybody in the world (Hillary Clinton notwithstanding. Into Thin Air PDF Book Free
Beck’s cheer and limitless optimism were so winning that, in spite of myself, I grew to like him a lot. As we sipped tea and readied our gear for the climb, nobody said much. All of us had suffered greatly to get to this moment. Like Doug, I had eaten little and slept not at all since leaving Camp Two, two days earlier.
Every time I coughed, the pain from my torn thoracic cartilage felt like someone was jabbing a knife beneath my ribs, and brought tears to my eyes. But if I wanted a crack at the summit, I knew that I had no choice but to ignore my infirmities and climb. Twenty-five minutes before midnight, I strapped on my oxygen mask, switched on my headlamp, and ascended into the darkness.
There were fifteen of us in Hall’s group: three guides, a full complement of eight clients, and Sherpas Ang Dorje, Lhakpa Chhiri, Ngawang Norbu, and Kami. Hall directed two other Sherpas—Arita and Chuldum—to remain at the tents in support, ready to mobilize in the event of trouble. The Mountain Madness team—composed of guides Fischer, Beidleman, and Boukreev; six Sherpas. Into Thin Air PDF Book Free
And clients Charlotte Fox, Tim Madsen, Klev Schoening, Sandy Pittman, Lene Gammelgaard, and Martin Adams—left the South Col half an hour after us.* Lopsang had intended that only five Mountain Madness Sherpas accompany the summit team, leaving two at the Col in support, but, he says, “Scott opens his heart, tells to my Sherpas, ‘All can go to summit.’
In the end, Lopsang went behind Fischer’s back and ordered one Sherpa, his cousin “Big” Pemba, to remain behind. “Pemba angry to me,” Lopsang acknowledged, “but I tell to him, ‘You must stay, or I will not give you job again.’ So he stays at Camp Four.” Leaving camp just after Fischer’s team, Makalu Gau started up with three Sherpas—contrary to Hall’s understanding that no.
Taiwanese would make a summit attempt the same day we did. The South Africans had intended to go for the top, too, but the grueling climb from Camp Three to the Col had taken so much out of them that they didn’t even emerge from their tents. Climbing above the South Col through the night. Into Thin Air PDF Book Free
Beck managed to keep up with the group by employing the same strategy he’d used the previous afternoon—stepping in the footsteps of the person directly in front of him. But by the time he reached the Balcony and the sun came up, he realized his vision was worse than ever. In addition, he’d inadvertently rubbed some ice crystals into his eyes, lacerating both corneas.
“At that point,” Beck revealed, “one eye was completely blurred over, I could barely see out of the other, and I’d lost all depth perception. I felt that I couldn’t see well enough to climb higher without being a danger to myself or a burden to someone else, so I told Rob what was going on.” “Sorry pal,” Rob immediately announced, “you’re going down. I’ll send one of the Sherpas down with you.”
But Beck wasn’t quite ready to give up his summit hopes: “I explained to Rob that I thought there was a pretty good chance my vision would improve once the sun got higher and my pupils contracted. I said I wanted to wait a little while, and then boogie on up after everybody else if I started seeing more clearly.”