This book made me want to hike more. Not extreme mountaineering like the folks in this story, but maybe some mild mountaineering. Unlike fiction that inspires adventure, this was real life for the people involved including the author, Jon Krakauer. He didn’t just do a ton of research and interview others to get a feel for how things went down—he lived it. Gives the story a unique feel when compared to his other books (which I also highly recommend), and makes you feel like you were right there with him.
Tragically, so many died on this expedition to summit Everest, but there’s something to be said about the fact that they died while out on an incredible adventure. They were at the pinnacle of fitness and mindfulness, and trying to accomplish something not many humans have done before. You can’t help but respect the hell out of them for it. Same can be said for the Sherpas, who’s physical ability is just as impressive as their life-long dedication to service and adventure.
This story also serves as a not-so-gentle reminder that nature is unforgiving, and things can turn from mildly annoying to deadly in a matter of minutes. The mountain doesn’t care if you’re a wealthy socialite or a humble Sherpa—you’re on the same level as everyone else up there.
The one great advantage which inexperience confers on the would-be mountaineer is that he is not bogged down by tradition or precedence. To him, all things appear simple, and he chooses straightforward solutions to the problems he faces. Often, of course, it defeats the success he is seeking, and sometimes it has tragic results, but the man himself doesn’t know this when he sets out on his adventure. Maurice Wilson, Earl Denman, Klavs Becker-Larsen—none of them knew much about mountain climbing or they would not have set out on their hopeless quests, yet, untrammelled by techniques, determination carried them a long way.