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Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer


Chapter 16

page 1 of 2


At 6:00 am the next morning, Stuart Hutchinson awakes Krakauer, telling him that Andy Harris is not in his tent and that he never made it back the night before. Krakauer is shocked—he saw Andy stumble over to the tents, and it never occurred to him that Andy wasn't safely there. Krakauer retraces Andy's steps, going back to the Col where Andy slid on his rear end, down toward the camp. Below the incline there is an ice gully, and Krakauer realizes that if Andy hadn't turned left toward the camp and had instead continue straight down the gully, he would have walked to the edge of the mountain. Krakauer sees faint footprints leading in that direction and realizes in horror that Andy has fallen over the edge.

Krakauer is beside himself—the previous night he told everyone, including Andy Harris's girlfriend, that Andy was fine. Krakauer searches for another hour, but finds nothing. Returning to camp, he hears a radio call between Rob Hall and Base Camp. Rob is still on the summit ridge, radioing for help. Fischer is still missing. The IMAX team, wanting to help, attempts to borrow a radio to contact Krakauer's group. The South African team has a functioning, high-powered radio, but when they ask to use it, Woodall will not let them.

Krakauer breaks from the narrative to explain that after he returned home he attempted to contact everyone who survived the climb, hoping to piece together the events. The only person who refused to talk to him was Martin Adams, who eventually relented a few months later. Adams tells Krakauer that he saw Krakauer descend, but was left behind. Later, Adams fell into a crevasse and when he eventually pulled himself out, he saw someone sitting on the ice. Adams asked that person where the tents were, and the man pointed in the right direction. Adams slid down the face to the tents, and stumbled toward camp.

Hearing Adams describe his conversation with the anonymous climber, Krakauer has a terrible thought—that the anonymous climber was actually him. Initially, Adams says he doesn't think it was Krakauer, but then turns the events over in his head and realizes Krakauer is right. The implications of this discovery are mind-boggling—it means that Krakauer never saw Harris at all that night.

Krakauer is beside himself with guilt. He'd been telling people since that night on the mountain that Harris met his death by walking off the side of the mountain, but he realizes that that isn't true at all. Krakauer berates himself, wondering how on earth he could have made such a mistake—how could he have looked right at someone and mistaken him for another, especially when Adams and Harris bore no resemblance to each other? The bigger question, of course, is what happened to Andy Harris.


The events at the beginning of the chapter are a springboard for Krakauer's discussion about what actually happened to Andy Harris. The only chronological events actually presented in the chapter deal with Krakauer learning that Harris is not back at camp and then attempting to find out what happened to Harris.

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"Into thin Air"

by Grizzthekid2014, August 07, 2012

When the clients would have sexual relations the book specifically stated that it what called " Sause making" I think you guys should add that in their because its important fact and could be on high school test knowing how specific teachers are these days. Thanks!


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