Study Guide

Into Thin Air Suffering

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Climbing Mount Everest ain't no walk in the park, people. First you have to deal with the consequences of being so high up in the atmosphere—with so little oxygen in the air, each step is an ordeal—and then you have to deal with the mental and emotional toll that such a brutal climb takes. It's a lot easier said than done, and we're not even going to get into how brutal things get in the high-altitude region adorably dubbed "The Death Zone." As we learn over the course of Into Thin Air, this sort of hardcore suffering is just part of the deal when you choose to climb Everest.

Questions About Suffering

  1. What drives the climbers to keep going despite their suffering? What similarities and differences do you notice behind what's driving them?
  2. How is Beck Weathers able to make peace with his experiences on Everest? Why?
  3. Why do so many people flock to Everest knowing how painful it will be? Be specific and dig into the text to respond.
  4. Is Krakauer surprised by how much he suffers while climbing Everest? Explain.

Chew on This

Although mountain-climbing is typically depicted as a high-octane pursuit, Into Thin Air proves that it's more about enduring suffering than anything else.

More than anyone else in the book, Beck Weathers manages to take the suffering that he endures on Everest and turn it into a positive.

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