Skip over navigation

Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer

Chapter 17

Chapter 16

Chapter 17, page 2

page 1 of 3

This chapter follows Hall and Fischer. Fischer summits at 3:40 pm on May 10. Lopsang waits for him at the top. Gau, the Taiwanese leader, arrives a few minutes later, and Rob Hall waits for Doug Hansen. Fischer keeps saying he does not feel well; his stomach is giving him trouble.

Fischer begins his descent at 3:55 pm, and although he used supplemental oxygen for the climb, he removes his mask. Everyone except Hall leaves the summit and at about 4:00 pm Doug Hansen arrives at the top. Hall's appointed turn-around time was two hours past; perhaps Hall allows Hansen to continue because the previous year, Hall turned Hansen back on the South Summit, just hundreds of feet below the top. Hansen was bitterly disappointed, and Hall encouraged him to try again.

Hansen and Hall spend a few minutes at the top then begin their descent with Lopsang. Lopsang leaves them at the top of the Hillary Step, hurrying to catch up with Fischer. Just after Lopsang departs, Hansen runs out of oxygen. He is exhausted, having used up all of his energy and strength to reach the top. Hall tries to radio for help at 4:30 pm and 4:41 pm, asking for someone to bring oxygen. Hall does not know that full canisters were waiting on the South Summit—Harris tells Hall over the radio that the canisters are empty, just as he told Krakauer.

Hall decides to descend, but cannot bring the nearly incapacitated Hansen down the Hillary Step. A few minutes later, Mike Groom gets through to Hall and tells him about the waiting oxygen. Fifteen minutes later, at the South Summit, Lopsang meets Harris. Harris, now understanding that at least some of the canisters are full, begs Lopsang to help him deliver the oxygen to Hall and Hansen. Lopsang says no, because he is Fischer's Sherpa and much catch up with Fischer. Harris, despite hypoxia and an increasingly deteriorating physical state, attempts to bring the oxygen to Hall and Hansen himself.

Lopsang catches up with Fischer by 6:00 pm and tries to make him use the oxygen. Fischer's mental state is questionable, and he says: "'I am very sick, too sick to go down. I am going to jump'" (297). Lopsang talks Fischer out of it, and they start descending the South Col. By then it is thundering, and Fischer cannot continue. Exhausted and much smaller than Fischer, Lopsang cannot carry him, so he stops and waits with Fischer. A couple hours later, Gau and two Sherpas arrive. The Sherpas leave Gau, who is as incapacitated as Fischer, behind. Fischer asks Lopsang to get Boukreev and send him up. Lopsang descends, eventually finding camp and relaying the message to Boukreev.

Guy Cotter, a friend of Hall and Harris, is at Base Camp and receives Hall's radio message for help. He urges Hall to climb down and get oxygen for Doug, but forty minutes later Hall and Hansen are still at Hillary Step. During subsequent radio calls Cotter begs Hall to descend alone, but Hall refuses. In the middle of the night Hall radios again, sounding more and more disturbed and mentally frail. By this time, Hall has somehow gotten two oxygen canisters, but the valves are frozen. At 5:00 Base Camp patched in a call from Hall's wife. A while later, Hall radios that Doug is "gone." No one ever found Hansen's body; it is possible that he fell. Krakauer says it is similarly hard to figure out what happened to Harris's body—the only fact known for sure is that he was on the South Summit at nightfall on May 10.

More Help

Previous Next
"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!


21 out of 37 people found this helpful