Study Guide

Sandy Pittman in Into Thin Air

By Jon Krakauer

Sandy Pittman

It'd be really easy for us to sit here and talk a bunch of trash about Sandy Pittman. And while we can totally appreciate a good trash-talking sesh, we think Pittman deserves more than a few lazy swipes at low-hanging fruit. In fact, we'd argue that this classy gal even deserves a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Before we do that, however, let's examine the things that other (less Shmooptastic) people would use to slight Pittman:

  • She's a wealthy socialite and tabloid fixture—in fact, she's married to MTV co-founder Robert Pittman.
  • She sometimes seems to flaunt her wealth: A few years prior, Pittman arrived at Everest Base Camp "with her nine-year-old son, Bo, along with a nanny to look after him" (8.44).
  • She goes to great lengths to continue sending out dispatches high up on the mountain, even forcing Lopsang Jangbu to carry her heavy satellite equipment all the way to Camp Four.

Yes, we know it looks bad. We could certainly pick apart these choices and critique them in ways both big and small. But we're not haters—that's not how we roll. Instead, we think it's only right to give credit where credit's due.

Pittman certainly deserves her fair share of credit. Like Yasuko Namba, Pittman has already climbed six of the Seven Summits (the tallest mountains in each of the seven continents) and is looking to complete the set with Everest. And she does, successfully reaching the summit before nearly being killed in the storm. Everything else aside, it takes one tough woman to survive all of that. Instead of criticizing Pittman for the way that she lives her life, then, we'd much rather spend our time admiring her for having the stick-to-itiveness and gumption to haul her butt up so many beastly peaks.