Study Guide

Into Thin Air Technology and Modernization

By Jon Krakauer

Technology and Modernization

Climbing Mount Everest is already difficult, but it'd be way harder without the use of modern technology. Bottled oxygen helps climbers reach high altitudes without their brains being fried to a crisp. Satellite phones and Internet technology allow instantaneous communication with the outside world. Plus, commercial expeditions like those run by Rob Hall and Scott Fischer in Into Thin Air would be completely impossible if not for the vast amount of financial and technological resources they leverage in their favor. For better or worse, climbing Mount Everest has changed quite a bit since Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay first reached its summit in 1953.

Questions About Technology and Modernization

  1. Is Boukreev's refusal to use bottled oxygen ethical? Why or why not?
  2. Has the rise of the climbing industry devalued the experience of climbing Everest? Explain.
  3. Do you think that future technological breakthroughs will make climbing Everest even easier?
  4. Does the technological advancement of Base Camp help or hinder the climbers?

Chew on This

Although we can respect his preference for not using bottled oxygen as a personal choice, we agree with Krakauer that it is unethical for Boukreev to refuse to use it while guiding clients.

In truth, the only way to prevent future disasters from occurring would be to ban bottled oxygen from Everest, as Krakauer suggests.