Examples Of Perseverance in The Novel Into Thin Air By Jon Krakauer
The spring of 1996 becomes the deadliest climbing season in Everest history. Jon Krakauer is one of the many people climbing the summit at the time, and would go on to create a personal account of the events that took place. The novel, Into Thin Air, by Krakauer, shows perseverance through the experiences of climbers Beck Weathers, Rob Hall, and Anatoli Boukreev on Everest throughout the book.
One example of perseverance in the novel is Beck Weathers’ survival against all odds in the nightmarish conditions of Mt. Everest. Weathers is a doctor from East Texas with little climbing experience but an intense desire to climb Everest. He gains the respect of Krakauer through his endless motivation to continue, but Beck begins to deteriorate in the conditions of Everest. Mike Groom discovers him, lying in the snow, and has to help him down the mountain, Groom, just as surprised to see Beck as I had been, got out his rope and began short-roping the Texan down toward the South Col. “Beck was so hopelessly blind,’’ Groom reports, “that every ten meters he’d take a step into thin air and I’d have to catch him with the rope. I was worried he was going to pull me off many times”. Beck’s mentally and physically debilitated condition will force him to have a strong willpower if to withhold his will to live. This disaster culminates in an intense storm trapping a large group of people to a small, frigid outcrop where they eventually leave Beck after he detaches himself from them, “Then he rolls a little distance away, crouches on a big rock, and stands up facing the wind with his arms stretched out to either side. A second later a gust comes up and blows him over backward into the night … that was the last I saw of him.”
The rest of the expedition believes he is long past saving because of this experience and the condition Stuart Hutchinson finds him in later on, Beck’s head was caked with a thick armor of frost. Balls of ice the size of grapes were matted to his hair and eyelids. After clearing the frozen detritus from Beck’s face, Hutchinson discovered that the Texan was still alive, too … “His right glove was missing and he had terrible frostbite. I tried to get him to sit up but I couldn’t. He was as close to death as a person can be and still be breathing.” Beck is left here where many presume he will die, in order to not “needlessly jeopardize the lives of the other climbers” trying to “attempt a rescue”. Beck is extremely isolated where he is left, and will have to channel all the strength left in him to be able to withstand the conditions he is left in. Everyone at camp is caught aghast when Weathers makes it back to camp, Burleson was standing outside the tents when he noticed someone walking slowly towards camp with a peculiar, stiff kneed gait … The person’s bare right hand, naked to the frigid wind and grotesquely frostbitten, was outstretched in a kind of odd, frozen, salute … it was none other than Beck Weathers, somehow risen from the dead. After this almost impossible resurrection, the doctors at Camp treat him, and he lives to tell the tale. His return from a near-death experience marks his extreme perseverance in some of the worst conditions possible on Earth.
Another example of perseverance in the novel is Rob Hall’s unstoppable drive to bring Doug Hansen to the summit. Rob Hall is a renowned climber and guide from New Zealand, and takes deep pride in bringing his clients to the Summit of Everest. One of his clients, Doug Hall, has had this delayed for him,Exactly one year earlier, Hall had turned Hansen around on the South Summit at 2:30 P.M., and to be denied so close to the top was a crushing disappointment to Hansen. He told me several times that he’d returned to Everest in 1996 largely as a result of Hall’s advocacy — he said Rob had called him from New Zealand “a dozen times” urging him to give it another shot — and this time Doug was absolutely determined to bag the top.
Rob Hall is determined to bring Doug to the top in fear of disappointing him yet again, and misses his turn around time “a full two hours earlier” because of it, in an “uncharacteristic lapse of judgement”. Rob continues with Doug because of this questionable decision, but they begin to encounter larger troubles on their way down. Hansen eventually “runs out of oxygen and founders”. Rob repeatedly tries to get help, “Hall got on the radio to say that he and Hansen were in trouble high on the summit ridge and urgently needed oxygen.” Hall and Hansen are in a extremely dangerous situation at this point, and Rob decides to “remain with Hansen and try to bring the nearly helpless client down without gas”. Later on a radio call with his friend Guy Cotter, Rob Hall explains the helpless situation, “At 4:30, however, Hall called to say that Doug was out of oxygen and unable to move.” Rob Hall is unable to make it down the summit because he is weighed down by the almost lifeless Doug. Rob is able to make it to some oxygen, but later on he calls in to say “Doug … is gone.” Rob slowly makes his way down the mountain, but throughout this he makes several radio calls that reveal his debilitated state. He ends up dying in the conditions of Everest, but his unending drive to bring his clients to the summit and his desperate struggle for his and Doug’s survival show his immense perseverance.
A final example of perseverance in the novel is Anatoli Boukreev’s struggle to help the climbers stranded on the mountain. Boukreev is a renowned Russian-Kazakhstani guide on Fischer’s team with wide-ranging experience on Everest. He makes the decision to climb “without gas” (supplemental oxygen) and he “didn’t have a backpack” with “items necessary to help climbers in the event of an emergency”. Anatoli acts irresponsibly because of his low-oxygen induced state, and makes his journey up and down the slope quickly, without taking time to help the slower climbers. Boukreev is met by Schoening and Beidleman later at camp, where he is told “where to find the five clients who’d remained behind out in the elements”. Boukreev sets out to rescue the trapped climbers, but his first venture is unsuccessful, Visibility was maybe a meter. It disappeared altogether … I tried to go faster, but my visibility was gone . . . That is very dangerous … I tried to go up, it was dark, I could not find the fixed line. Boukreev is stressed over the condition of his fellow group members, is “so tired, so exhausted” and resorts to “sitting down on his pack at the edge of camp, cradling his head in his hands, and trying to figure out how he might rescue them”. Later on, he makes a second attempt, so the Russian guide resolved to bring back the group by himself. Overcoming his own crippling exhaustion, he plunged into the maw of the hurricane and searched the Col for nearly an hour. It was an incredible display of strength and courage, but he was unable to locate any of the missing climbers. Boukreev has the willpower to make another (failed) attempt at finding the climbers, but does not stop there. He makes a final trip out a short while after,This time he saw the faint glow of Madsen’s fading headlamp and was thereby able to locate the missing climbers … As soon as Boukreev found the group, it was obvious bring only one climber at a time. He was carrying and oxygen bottle, which he and Madsen hooked up to Pittman’s mask. Then Boukreev indicated to Madsen that he’d be back as soon as possible and started helping Fox towards the tents. Anatoli’s endless determination to rescue the missing climbers shows his perseverance in the face of heavy adversity. He braves the elements and puts his own life in danger to finish this mission. Boukreev still has hopes for his most beloved partner, Scott Fischer, and tries to save him as well, At 5:00 PM, as the storm intensified, the Russian headed up alone to save him. “I find Scott at seven o’clock” … “His oxygen mask is around face, but bottle is empty. He is not wearing mittens, hands completely bare. Down suit is unzipped, pulled of his shoulder, one arm is outside clothing. There is nothing I can do. Scott is dead.” With a heavy heart, Boukreev lashed Fischer’s backpack across his face as a shroud and left him where he lay. Then he collected Scott’s camera, ice ax, and favorite pocket knife – which Beidleman would later give to Scott’s nine year old son in Seattle – and descended into the tempest. Anatoli makes a courageous effort to save Fischer, even with the low chance of success. Throughout the disaster on Everest, he never stops in his drive to help those stranded on the mountain. He displays immense bravery and perseverance against all odds, and lives are saved because of his actions.
The acts of Beck Weathers, Rob Hall, and Anatoli Boukreev are perfect examples of courage on the summit and perfectly display the perseverance in Into Thin Air. In life, we all climb our own summit, with hardships along the way, and these peoples’ stories can be an inspiration to overcome the adversity we face every day. If they can keep their will in the worst conditions imaginable, then we can triumph over our personal challenges.
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