Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Summary of Section 1 of Into Thin Air

The book begins in the middle of the chapter with Krakauer at the summit of Everest. He doesn't notice it to be that great because he is so tired. He sees a few unthreatening clouds in the distance. He then begins his descent with his oxygen tank runnig low. Harris, a member of his climbing group catches up to him. Krakauer asks him to turn his oxygen off so he would have enough for him to descend to base camp. Harris is so mentally impaired that he turns the oxygen all the way up. Krakauer feels suprisingly good for about 10 minutes and then he suddenly feels awful. He then realizes tha Harris turned up his oxygen. He would have to descend fast. He tries to descend as quickly as possible but is stopped by a group of cheering climbers from another expedition. He is frustrated and pushes through them cussing and fussing as he lost more and more oxygen. He finally reaches base camp.

The next chapter switches over to the History of Everest. In 1852, in India , the surveyor general calculated that Everest was the highest mountain in the world. The legend of Everest is born. The book then describes the numerous attempts to climb Everest and that each time was a failure. Then, in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander and Tenzing, a native reached the summit. It then switches over to how much loved to climb and about Outside Magazine giving him an offer to climb it which he couldn't refuse.

The next chapter talks about Rob Hall, Andy Harris and the commercializatin of the mountain. Rob Hall and Andy Harris who had both previously climbed the mountain were offering regular people the chance to reach the summit for $65,000 a head. When Sir Edmund Hillary publically humiliates Hall for saying that what they were doing to Everest was wrong he was really hurt. Shortly after, Andy Harris, Hall's best friend died in his arms on one of the expeditions. But Hall kept going.


My main reaction in this section is about something that happened at about the first page of the book. When Krakauer describes not feelong particularily special when he was on top of the world. I understand that he is in pain (with two separated ribs from coughing so much) but I would be so happy not just that I did one of hardest thing in the world but happy with relief. I would normally expect reaching the top of the worlds tallest mountain as one of the greatest feeling in the world but the way Krakauer describes it. It doesn't seem that great at all. It kind of ruined my interpretation of what reaching the summit of Everest would be like.

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