Quotes from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Jon Krakauer ·  368 pages

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“Getting to the top of any given mountain was considered much less important than how one got there: prestige was earned by tackling the most unforgiving routes with minimal equipment, in the boldest style imaginable.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“It was titillating to brush up against the enigma of mortality, to steal a glimpse across its forbidden frontier. Climbing was a magnificient activity, I firmly believed, not in spite of the inherent perils, but precisely because of them.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Everest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics and others with a shaky hold on reality.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“With enough determination, any bloody idiot can get up this hill,” Hall observed. “The trick is to get back down alive.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“But at times I wondered if I had not come a long way only to find that what I really sought was something I had left behind.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Above the comforts of Base Camp, the expedition in fact became an almost Calvinistic undertaking. The ratio of misery to pleasure was greater by an order of magnitude than any mountain I'd been on; I quickly came to understand that climbing Everest was primarily about enduring pain. And in subjecting ourselves to week after week of toil, tedium and suffering, it struck me that most of us were probably seeking above all else, something like a state of grace.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“This forms the nub of a dilemna that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you're too driven you're likely to die.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“If you're bumming out, you're not gonna get to the top, so as long as we're up here we might as well make a point of grooving. (Quoting Scott Fischer)”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“We were too tired to help. Above 8,000 meters is not a place where people can afford morality”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“...I quickly came to understand that climbing Everest was primarily about enduring pain. And in subjecting ourselves to week after week of toil, tedium, and suffering, it struck me that most of use were probably seeking, above else, something like a state of grace.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“There were many, many fine reasons not to go, but attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act—a triumph of desire over sensibility. Any person who would seriously consider it is almost by definition beyond the sway of reasoned argument.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“It seems more than a little patronizing for Westerners to lament the loss of the good old days when life in the Khumbu was so much simpler and more picturesque. Most of the people who live in this rugged country seem to have no desire to be severed from the modern world or the untidy flow of human progress. The last thing Sherpas want is to be preserved as specimens in an anthropological museum.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Thus the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad. . . .”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“I didn't doubt the potential value of paying attention to subconscious cues...problem was, my inner voice resembled Chicken Little: it was screaming that I was about to die, but it did that almost every time I laced up my climbing boots.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“If you get killed,” she argued with a mix of despair and anger, “it’s not just you who’ll pay the price. I’ll have to pay, too, you know, for the rest of my life. Doesn’t that matter to you?”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“My hunger to climb had been blunted, in short, by a bunch of small satisfactions that added up to something like happiness.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Walter Mittys with Everest dreams need to bear in mind that when things go wrong up in the Death Zone--and sooner or later they always do--the strongest guides in the world may be powerless to save a client's life; indeed, as the events of 1996 demonstrated, the strongest guides in the world are sometimes powerless to save even their own lives. Four of my teammates died not so much because Rob Hall's systems were faulty--indeed, nobody's were better--but because on Everest it is the nature of systems to break down with a vengeance.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Unfortunately, the sort of individual who is programmed to ignore personal distress and keep pushing for the top is frequently programmed to disregard signs of grave and imminent danger as well. This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die. Above 26,000 feet, moreover, the line between appropriate zeal and reckless summit fever becomes grievously thin. Thus the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot bear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned. William Butler Yeats                   “The Second Coming”  ”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Once Everest was determined to be the highest summit on earth, it was only a matter of time before people decided that Everest needed to be climbed.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Devout Buddhists believe in sonam—an accounting of righteous deeds that, when large enough, enables one to escape the cycle of birth and rebirth and transcend forever this world of pain and suffering.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“The plain truth is that I knew better but went to Everest anyway. And in doing so I was a party to the death of good people, which is something that is apt to remain on my conscience for a very long time.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“When I rest I feel utterly lifeless except that my throat burns when I draw breath.… I can scarcely go on. No despair, no happiness, no anxiety. I have not lost the mastery of my feelings, there are actually no more feelings. I consist only of will. After each few metres this too fizzles out in unending tiredness. Then I think nothing. I let myself fall, just lie there. For an indefinite time I remain completely irresolute. Then I make a few steps again.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“The more improbable the situation and the greater the demands made on [the climber], the more sweetly the blood flows later in release from all that tension. The possibility of danger serves merely to sharpen his awareness and control. And perhaps this is the rationale of all risky sports: You deliberately raise the ante of effort and concentration in order, as it were, to clear your mind of trivialities.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“The urge to catalog the myriad blunders in order to “learn from the mistakes” is for the most part an exercise in denial and self-deception.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Beidleman knew they were on the eastern, Tibetan side of the Col and that the tents lay somewhere to the west. But to move in that direction it was necessary to walk directly upwind into the teeth of the storm. Wind-whipped granules of ice and snow struck the climbers’ faces with violent force, lacerating their eyes and making it impossible to see where they were going. “It was so difficult and painful,” Schoening explains, “that there was an inevitable tendency to bear off the wind, to keep angling away from it to the left, and that’s how we went wrong.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.… We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it - mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn't, of course.”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


“While tentbound high on Everest, Mallory and his companions would read aloud to one another from Hamlet and King Lear”
― Jon Krakauer, quote from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster


About the author

Jon Krakauer
Born place: in Brookline, Massachusetts, The United States
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