Study Guide

Into Thin Air Chapter 3

By Jon Krakauer

Chapter 3

Over Northern India, March 29, 1996, 30,000 Feet

  • Krakauer is cruising above India in a jetliner. To his amusement—and minor panic—he realizes that the plane is currently cruising at the same height as Everest's peak.
  • He arrives in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where he's scooped up by a New Zealander named Andy Harris. Harris works for fellow Kiwi Rob Hall's mountain guide company.
  • As the two men wait for the arrival of another client, they discuss their respective experience levels. To Krakauer's surprise, Harris confesses that he's never "been to Everest" (3.8) before.
  • Krakauer meets Rob Hall himself later that night. The Kraken digs him from the word go.
  • Obsessed with climbing since forever, Hall started his career as a gopher for a climbing equipment company, quickly rising in the ranks of the organization through sheer determination.
  • It takes him "ten years and three attempts" (3.14) before he finally reaches the summit of Everest in 1990. After this, Hall starts a mountain guide company called Adventure Consultants with his best friend and fellow climber Gary Ball.
  • Many in the climbing community aren't happy with this trend of "guided" expeditions, however, since it allows unskilled climbers to reach extremely dangerous peaks.
  • Tragedy strikes in 1993 when Ball dies from cerebral edema, which is the "swelling of the brain brought on by high altitude" (3.22). Although Hall is devastated, this tragedy doesn't hinder Adventure Consultants from becoming the most successful guide group on Everest.
  • Two days later, Krakauer is sitting in a cruddy old helicopter headed for the base of the Himalayas. From there, they'll trek to Base Camp on foot.
  • Krakauer looks around at his fellow clients (who we'll meet individually a bit later). It's clear even from the cursory view that these folks are amateurs. This is going to go swell.