Reading Annapurna after Devil’s Thumb allowed me to appreciate the variety of narrative styles that exist within the extreme adventure narrative genre, which I had never before thought to consider. I am accustomed to Krakauer’s colorful narratives, which in Devil’s Thumb, as well as Into The Wild and Into Thin Air, propel the reader into the sensory experience of the adventurer. Herzog in some brief instances accomplishes the same feat, but predominantly focuses on the organization and overall order of occurrences on the trip. His goal is to recount the accomplishment, not to transport the reader into the experience. Herzog sometimes includes a description of an individual’s degree of exhaustion or frustration but rarely goes to Krakauer’s lengths to make the sensation relatable to the reader. I often found Herzog’s description of the mountain itself to be lacking, and consequently frustrating. I missed the similes and imagery that so heavily aided my imagination when reading The Devil’s Thumb. How steep was that glacier, Herzog?
My experience with glacier travel, terrifying exposure, and brutal wind chill may have been central to my connection with Herzog’s narrative. This knowledge of the exhaustion that ensues after hours of carful crampon placements in mountaineering boots that feel like cinderblocks could very well have compensated for Herzog’s bare bones description. I would have likely found myself struggling to finish the story without this experience based empathy.