Study Guide

Beck Weathers in Into Thin Air

By Jon Krakauer

Beck Weathers

Jon Krakauer's perspective on Beck Weathers shifts dramatically over the course of Into Thin Air. Though he sees Weathers at first as the physical embodiment of Rush Limbaugh's politics, he eventually grows to deeply respect the man for his tenacity and courageousness.

At first, Weathers seems like the quintessential right-wing blowhard. We're paraphrasing, of course, but still, no one can deny the tension of their initial meeting. As Krakauer describes it, Weathers mostly just spouts "scathing, Limbaughesque rants against bed-wetting liberals" (4.10). That's heresy to a bleeding-heart lefty like Krakauer—the dude did write Into the Wild, after all, which is about as tree-huggy as you can get.

This narrow view gets appreciably widened over the course of the climb. Although Krakauer rightly observes that Beck Weathers is a sub-par climber at best, he gains respect for Weathers's "tough, driven, [and] stoic" nature, ultimately realizing that "what [he] initially took to be arrogance was looking more and more like exuberance" (10.7). This becomes even more impressive after we learn that Weathers's vision has been severely deteriorating during his time on Everest. Dude's a beast.

Then, of course, that respect turns into downright admiration after Weathers somehow survives the brutal storm. Let's face it: Weathers is left for dead about three, maybe four times. Most people would've just given up in these circumstances, but Weathers hardly bats an eye. We don't know if the guy is a secret Kryptonian, but this tough-as-nails Texan somehow powers through hardships that would defeat lesser men.

To make him even cooler, Weathers even deals with the disaster in an admirable way. Despite losing a hand and parts of his face, he still manages to keep a positive outlook on life and deal with his trauma in a fearless way. If only all of us could be so courageous in the face of our adversities.

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