Harrer stresses the importance of learning from history. As other people have already said, the beginning of his book tackles the question of "why write." He was told: "a book of yours will have more effect on our youngsters than a thousand warnings from elsewhere. they'll believe you" (5). Through his narrative, Harrer hoped that both readers and future climbers would learn necessary lessons, and he wrote his book to advise and inform his audience. Just as the experiences of previous climbers guided his climb, his book serves as a warning to future adventurers. Harrer talks of the role that the initial expeditions had in molding subsequent ones. In reference to Rebitsch and Vorg's historic climb, he noted how they "had learned from the tragic errors of their predecessors and had themselves made no new mistakes" (78-9). The successes and failures of previous expeditions are critical to helping new climbers not repeat old mistakes.
Along with the idea of the necessity of learning from history, Harrer's book offers a new perspective on how we--as readers and potential climbers--gain this knowledge about prior climbs. By discussing the people at the base of the mountain who watch the climbers through telescopes and binoculars, Harrer opens up another category of armchair adventurers in addition to those of us who read from afar. These bystanders are able to watch the climbers, make judgements, witness accidents, and see progress. It's almost like the climbers are on TV with an audience available to call for help if they're in danger. These in-person armchair adventurers have greater responsibility than mere readers of adventure narratives because they can directly assist the climbers if they are struggling.