Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer Essay

Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer Essay

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In the novel Into Thin Air, the author Jon Krakauer shows us two characters who have some similarities, yet are markedly different. Rob Hall and Scott Fischer are both world renowned mountain climbers as well as the leaders and head guides of their own mountain climbing enterprises. Each employ the respect of his peers, yet here is where the similarities end. With differences in their physical stature, climbing styles, and safety concerns, it would seem that one was destined to succeed and other to fail.

Krakauer describes Hall as being a thirty-five-year-old man standing at "six foot three or four and skinny as a pole" (31). His approach to climbing and guiding was meticulous and demanding. He paid close attention to details and had an intense desire to succeed. Hall made many successful climbs prior to his attempt at Everest. In 1990, after three separate attempts over a span of ten years, Hall finally made the summit of Everest. Hall’s flair for publicity had allowed him the success of his prior climbs, but he decided that the guiding business was preferable to constantly pursuing sponsorships. After creating Adventure Consultants, his mountain climbing enterprise, Hall became very successful at getting his clients to the top of Mount Everest. By 1996, he was charging sixty-five thousand dollars per person. This fee was the highest of all the companies on Mt. Everest.

Hall’s success rate was not only due to his attention to detail but his attention to safety and the knowledge that without the Sherpas, any attempt at guiding on Everest would be disastrous. Hall’s ability to plan and coordinate ensured that his clients had plenty of food and supplies and that they became acclimatized to the higher altitudes. Each base camp ...


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... Scott’s clients who were sick, instead of a Sherpa, I don’t think he would have been treated so haphazardly’" (113). Had Fischer not had such a lax approach to climbing, a guide would have been with Ngawang Toche and had him down the mountain sooner.

While Hall was the better guide, both gentlemen held the respect of their peers for their individual climbing skills. Of the climbers on the mountains that day, they were considered the best. Yet despite their skills or their ability to guide, both succumbed to the tragedy on the mountain. Krakauer admired both Hall and Fischer for different reasons, yet he uses them as examples to show us that no matter how good, passionate, or skillful a person might be, the tragedy on the mountain was a cascade effect beyond human control.


Works Cited

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. Digital ed. New York: Random House, 2000.

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