A personal account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Krakauer recounts the physical and mental cost of such a climb. Even under the best of circumstances, each step up the ice-clad mountain is monumentally exhausting, and the oxygen-deprived brain loses the ability to make reliable judgements. And on May 10, 1996, when Hall’s expedition and several others made their summit assault, the conditions were far from ideal. The mountain was so “crowded” that climbers had to wait their turn near the summit while their bottled oxygen dwindled by the minute. By afternoon a blinding hurricane-force storm had stranded a number of climbers on the highest, most exposed reaches of the mountain. By the end of the day, twelve lives were lost.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
This was our Book Club Barbecue choice. Most of us found it a difficult book to read. Although compellingly written and full of stunning detail, the book was also full of stunningly selfish people. We concluded that mountain climbers must have no thought for the emotional and financial turmoil they put their families through. What a waste of money and effort!