Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Lure of Everest - Doing What Needs to be Done

I'm currently reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, which is kind of the follow-up to one of the previous books I've read, called Into the Wild, by the same author. Not that the stories have anything to do with each another - but they are both written by the same author, an avid mountain climber and both began as pieces for Outdoor Magazine.

I've already discussed some of what Into The Wild is about. Into this Air occurs a few years later, when Krakauer joins a commercial expedition to climb Everest that culminates in several deaths. Like he does in Into The Wild, the author does a great job framing the story and studying it from all angles - weaving in personal stories and researched anecdotes to make his points.

One of the anecdotes in Into Thin Air is about a failed Everest expedition when a poor and inexperienced, but strong willed climber talks two sherpas (local residents) into joining him on his journey. Following is a revealing quote from one of the sherpas:

"Denman (the climber) had neither the money to pay us well nor to guarantee a decent sum to our dependents in case something happened to us....Any man in is right mind would have said no. But I couldn't say no. For in my heart I needed to go, and the pull of Everest was stronger for me than any force on earth."

That's just a nugget - but it gives you some insight into one of the larger themes that Krakauer attempts to explore - maybe for his own personal understanding as well as reader's. That is, why do people climb  mountains and take on other recreational adventures through which they are risking their health and life.

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