Monday, February 17, 2014


Krakauer tells a very different story than either Blum or Herzog. His focus lies in spinning a tale, although a truthful one, with vivid imagery and relatable characters. In both accounts of Annapurna I felt like it was really just the most honest retelling of an event that the two climbers could come up with. Krakauer’s approach to writing the book gives me insight on the different motivations of each person he encountered on the mountain as well as the motivations of past Everest climbers.
In Annapurna Herzog was climbing the mountain for France. He hoped to conquer the mountain and lay claim to the summit for his country. In Annapurna: A Woman’s Place, Blum climbed in the name of women, an attempt to prove to people around the world that women deserved to get credit for their ability to make the same accomplishments as their male climber counterparts. In both of these accounts, however, it was ultimately about climbing. Both leaders recognized that they needed skills, experience, and a strong team in order to succeed in reaching the mountain’s summit.
I can’t help but feel like the underlying motivations of the climbers in Into Thin Air actually overshadow the fact that these people are attempting to climb Everest. The commercialization of the mountain has made it possible for just about anyone to sign up for an Everest expedition, if they can afford it. We’ve spoken a great deal about what summits mean and how people are constantly pushing themselves to reach various figurative summits throughout their lives. I think that the ways in which Everest has become accessible to average people who are by no means experienced climbers has turned it into a dangerous summit that people are using to feel as though they have accomplished some other goal without really understanding the risks and dangers that are associated with mountaineering.
The people that Krakauer describes seem to have forgotten the real dangers and difficulties involved with climbing a mountain like Everest and, because of the guides and the accessibility, are using the mountain as a means to feel like they have accomplished other goals. Most of chapter seven is spent describing how wildly unprepared and inexperienced the people on the mountain are. I think that a dangerous cycle now exists where the actual climbing of Everest is overshadowed by the underlying goals, which is made possible by the facilitators and guides looking to profit.
Is there a point where someone should put their foot down and stop putting people on such a formidable mountain without the proper experience? When does the risk become too great? Krakauer described the importance of a strong team that you can trust with your life when you are climbing, at what cost has that element been removed from Everest expeditions?


  1. I agree, I think the issue of balancing the importance of guides and the importance of personal skill and experience is crucial and Krakauer's telling of the people on Everest really makes the reader question the safety and sanity of some of these endeavors.
    I felt like Krakauer's descriptions of the other people attempting to summit seemed almost like a gossip magazine. Everyone has their own background story, their own motivations, their own level of skill or experience, as well as finances and power. Commercialization seems to have ruined the magic and simultaneously increased the danger of the experience. I'm also torn because I think it's an incredibly empowering idea for guides to successfully take people to heights beyond their wildest dreams, it's pretty cool, but as you said: where is the line drawn?

  2. I also agree. Aside from the many other issues I have with the commercialization of mountaineering, I really think that there are some standards of safety that are being lost or not taken seriously enough, all for the sake of getting as many people up a mountain as possible so as to get the greatest profits. This may be a problem just within the guide services themselves as the guide services attempt to achieve the greatest possible income from these expeditions, but the problem may have deeper origins such as, as Krakauer mentioned, in the governments of less affluent countries such as China. China and similar countries attempt to sell many permits for the income they generate, but they don't equip their guide services nearly well enough for the difficulty of the trips, thereby making the commercialization of mountaineering profitable for the country, but very dangerous for the mountaineers themselves.