Study Guide

Into Thin Air Mortality

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There're no two ways about it: Setting foot on Everest is like playing a gigantic game of Russian roulette. Ominous stuff, huh? In Into Thin Air, we're given a first-hand account of the 1996 Everest disaster, an awful day that ends with eight climbers being killed during a freak storm. Some meet their ends suddenly; some keep fighting until they simply can't fight anymore; and some willingly sacrifice their lives in order to give others a fighting chance. Although it's a harrowing tale, Into Thin Air teaches us a great deal about how the human spirit reacts to the horrors of mortality.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How does Krakauer's relationship with death change over the course of the climb?
  2. Why is Krakauer so shaken by Andy Harris's death?
  3. In your opinion, why does Rob Hall refuse to leave Doug Hansen's side?
  4. It it wrong of the Japanese climbers to refuse to help the dying climbers? Explain.

Chew on This

Although Krakauer is deeply disturbed after seeing his first dead body on Everest, the sheer amount of death he sees numbs him quite quickly.

Although Krakauer is shaken by the deaths of the people he knows, it is Harris's death that hits him the hardest because Krakauer wonders if he couldn't have done more to help his friend.

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