Study Guide

Into Thin Air Ambition

By Jon Krakauer

Ambition

After reading Into Thin Air, we can confidently state that Wale doesn't have anything on Rob Hall and Scott Fischer. These two dudes worked their way up from the bottom of a cutthroat climbing industry, each eventually forming his own mountain guiding company through sheer ambition. Hall's company, Adventure Consultants, has long been the industry standard, leading countless paying clients to the summit of Everest. Fischer, on the other hand, is the young upstart, eager to prove himself and unseat King Hall from his alpine throne. In the end, however, we're left with the lasting impression that the same ambition that leads these men to do great things ultimately hinders them when an unexpected disaster strikes.

Questions About Ambition

  1. Compare and contrast Hall's and Fischer's business ambitions. Do you notice any patterns? What does this reveal about the role of ambition in developing an ongoing relationship with Everest?
  2. Does Krakauer's presence contribute to the Everest disaster? Explain.
  3. Why is Fischer so eager to prove himself as a commercial expedition leader?
  4. Does Hall's ambition influence his desire to push all of his clients to the summit? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Fischer's business ambitions lead him to exert an inordinate amount of effort getting his clients to the summit—a choice that ultimately harms him.

It seems perfectly conceivable that Krakauer's presence contributes to Hall's actions, leading him to overextend himself in order to present a better face for his business.