A Story Of Climbing Mount Everest in Into Thin Air Novel
Into the Air of Death
Over 290 people, in total, have died attempting the climb on Mount Everest. Would you want to be apart of that statistic? The true story of Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, tells the tale of Krakauer and his team’s journey to the top of the Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. The book really exemplifies the many hardships and variables of the summiting of Mount Everest. Many people on the climb die, some lose body parts or are permanently wounded, and others barely get by. Climbing the treacherous Mount Everest is not worth the risks due to the unpredictable weather patterns, high death tolls, and also the high risk low reward factor.
First off, summiting Mount Everest is unreasonable because of the unpredictable weather patterns. An example of these awful weather patterns is Jon Krakauer’s journey to the top of Mount Everest. Jon and his team got to the top of the mountain, with little problems, but when they finally reached the top, Krakauer noticed how storm clouds started forming after the sky had been completely clear almost an hour ago and writes:
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, Ama Dablam, and the other lesser peaks surrounding Everest…
But I can attest that nothing I saw early on the afternoon of May 10 suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down. To my oxygen-depleted mind, the clouds drifting up the grand valley of ice known as the Western Cwm* look innocuous, wispy, insubstantial. (Krakauer, 8-9)
Krakauer states in his story how an hour before his team reached the summit, the sky had been completely clear and there was no sign of a storm brewing. When they reach the summit, however, Krakauer notices that a blanket of clouds have covered the surrounding mountains, foreshadowing to the storm that is about to happen later on in the story that leads to many people’s deaths. According to Jon Krakauer, many people died to this storm, including sherpa and guides. With him saying, “nothing I saw early on the afternoon of May 10 suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down” shows how even an advanced and experienced climber such as Jon Krakauer, didn’t see the storm coming because there were really no signs of it. This just shows how sudden and dangerous these storms are because 8 people died due to the sudden change of weather. Also, when Jon says, “To my oxygen-depleted mind, the clouds drifting up the grand valley of ice known as the Western Cwm looked innocuous, wispy, insubstantial” also suggests that because of the little to no oxygen near the summit of Everest, people’s minds and judgement are clouded because they don’t have oxygen to think about decisions carefully and this just further emphasizes the dangers of Mount Everest. Overall, the weather on Mount Everest is too unpredictable that it makes climbing even more dangerous than it already is.
Secondly, climbing Mount Everest is ill-advised because of the high death rates while climbing the mountain. On average, one in every four people die while attempting the climb on Mount Everest, either ascending or descending. Krakauer explains how tragic climbing the mountain can be by saying:
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…
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? Nobody can speak for the leaders of the two guided groups involved, because both men are dead. (Krakauer, 8)
Krakauer writes how these eight people died or went missing and how people, such as Beck Weathers, have lost limbs and bodily functions due to the freezing temperature up on Everest. The top five causes of death on Mount Everest are avalanches, falling from great heights, exposure or frostbite, icefall collapsing, and altitude sickness. The many causes of death that are possible make Everest a lot more dangerous because it is almost impossible to prepare for all of them. Also, so many people have died whilst summiting Everest that it is very common to see people’s dead bodies while climbing. When Jon says, “Later-after six bodies had been located, after a search for two others had been abandoned” he means that if you die on Everest, it is not likely that your body will even make it off of the mountain. People have to pay for others to retrieve the bodies of loved ones who die on Everest. That just shows how dangerous this place can be. Sometimes, people don’t even know how you die because of how easy it is to get separated from your climbing group and to get lost. Doesn’t that just sound scary to think about? You die and nobody even knows how or where you died. Anyways, climbing this mountain is extremely dangerous and completely absurd.
Lastly, Mount Everest is not even worth trying to climb because of the high risk, low reward factor. Usually, people won’t even get the chance to experience the ‘top of the world’ if they survive, for more than five minutes. In Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer and his team only get to stay on the summit for about five minutes:
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. 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, the 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. (Krakauer, 8)
When he reaches the summit, Krakauer meets up with Andy Harris and Anatoli Boukreev, two other climbers who are on the expedition along side Jon. Later on, Andy Harris goes missing and is not found to this very day. This quote is conveying the very small amount of time that is able to be spent on the top of Everest. If you survive, there really isn’t anything that one may get out of climbing Mount Everest except some cool pictures and some new friends. People have to pay up to $65,000 to be taken up the mountain and after that, they have to exert everything that they have into surviving the treacherous climb just to get to the top. After you get to the top, there is really nothing else that happens. After the summit, you then have to attempt to descend without dying. If you survive the whole journey, what do you get out of it? An item off the bucket list? Was it worth it? Nearly dying and probably getting severely injured just to say that they got to the top of the tallest mountain in the world. Yeah, that sounds cool but still, it’s not worth dying for.
All in all, reaching the top of Mount Everest is not worth the risks because of the erratic weather conditions, the tremendous death tolls on the mountain, and also the extremely low reward for what someone goes through. First of all, the unpredictable weather conditions such as storms and avalanches are some of the leading causes of death on Mount Everest. Secondly, about one in every four climbers on Mount Everest don’t make it back alive. Lastly, nothing is achieved by completing such a tremendous journey. So, one must ask themselves, is it worth enduring all of this pain and loss and many hardships just to get to the top of a mountain?
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