When I saw Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer at my library’s book flea market, I didn’t know anything about climbing, mountaineering or the sheer madness that is a Mount Everest attempt. My decision to pick it up was based only on the fact that I was headed for a skiing trip, the book cost only 1€ and had a mountain on the cover. Nonfiction was not something I gravitated toward. Once we got settled I picked it up, and spent the next couple of evenings alternating between reading it and weirding everyone out with details about Everest expeditions. From the comfort and warmth of my hotel bed, I was hooked. I knew I would never do something as extreme in my whole life, but I thoroughly enjoyed the danger seeping from every page. Give me all the carabiners, crampons and frostbitten details, thank you very much.
Although I may not get to them in the foreseeable future, I fell down the rabbit hole looking for books that may scratch the same itch. An obvious choice was Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams, a collection of essay about his own (ice) climbing trips and the mountaineering community at large.
These are some of the books I found:
- The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev (Everest)
- Left for Dead by Beck Weathers (Everest)
- Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar (Ural Mountains)
- Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (Peruvian Andes)
- Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman (K2)
- Annapurna by Maurice Herzog
I’m especially interested in the first two books, as they recount the same ascent as Krakauer did with Into Thin Air, but from different or even opposing perspectives. Krakauer presents Boukreev as overly ambitous and egoistic, putting himself first instead of saving other people. This struck me as a highly subjective opinion, so I’m curious to read Boukreev’s perspective as well in The Climb.
In Into Thin Air Krakauer describes how Beck Weathers was left behind in a storm that killed five climbers that day. He was believed to be dying from hypothermia and therefore to be beyond rescue. Leaving him behind was a tough but rational decision. I vividly remember the description of Weathers stumbling back into camp against all odds, a man seemingly made of ice. Left for Dead will no doubt be a fascinating read, recounting Weather’s fight back to life in his own words.