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Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer

Chapter 8

Chapter 7

Chapter 9

Summary

On April 16, the group begins its second acclimatization climb from Base Camp to Camp One. Krakauer feels that he is getting used to the high altitude, although the Icefall remains daunting. The twelve-story block of ice is still there, looking even more precarious and ready to tumble.

This time, Hall wants them to spend two nights at Camp One, then spend three nights at Camp Two before heading back down to Base Camp. Krakauer makes it to Camp One ahead of most of the climbers, and tries to help Sherpa Ang Dorje set up camp. He finds physical labor at the high altitude nearly impossible. Hall calls Dorje his "main man," and the two have climbed before. Dorje has summated Everest three times.

In the morning they leave for Camp Two, situated almost four miles above them. They climb through the highest box canyon in the world, and up another glacier. At first, the temperature is freezing cold, but soon the sun, radiating off the glacier, turns the section of mountain into an oven.

At 21,000 feet, Krakauer sees a dead body. Hall's best guess is that it is the body of a Sherpa that died a number of years before. At 21,300 feet they are at Camp Two, which consists of 120 tents. The next two days are extremely difficult due to the altitude—initially, Krakauer cannot do much except "lay in my tent with my head in my hands, trying to exert myself as little as possible" (138). The next day, he climbs above Camp Two to help accelerate the acclimatization, and stumbles upon another dead body.

Back at Base Camp, Krakauer and Andy Harris hike over to meet the South American team. The team members invite them to tea, and don't seem terribly put off about the rumors concerning their leader, Ian Woodall, and they seem pleasant enough.

Back at their own camp, Hall, the Base Camp doctor, Caroline Mackenzie, Scott Fischer and his doctor are on the radio talking to someone higher up on the mountain. One of Fischer's Sherpas, Ngawang Topche, had been feeling weak and strange for a couple days. Because of Sherpas' reputations as not succumbing to altitude sickness, acknowledging altitude-related problems often ends a Sherpa's career. So instead of going back to Base Camp as Fischer suggests, Ngawang continues up to Camp Two. Once there, Ngawang is having trouble walking, is delirious and it coughing up blood. The symptoms are indicative off HAPE, or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, an illness in which climbing too high too quickly fills the lungs with fluids. The only cure is to descend as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, none of Fischer's guides are with Ngawang—Fischer allows guides and clients to go up and down at their will during the acclimatization process.

Following the doctor's advice, someone at Camp Two gives Ngawang medication and supplemental oxygen. It doesn't help, and Neil Beidleman and a group of Sherpas leave Base Camp to meet them. When the rescue group gets there, Ngawang's condition has worsened. They carry him down to Base Camp, and he improves temporarily, then begins to deteriorate. Climbing lower still, Ngawang's condition still diminishes, and one of the rescues guides also develops a case of HAPE. Ngawang, unwilling to admit that he actually has HAPE, defies the camp doctor's orders and removes his oxygen mask. He continues to get worse. Ngawang stops breathing, and camp doctors administer CPR and they intubate. Ngawang doesn't recover, and eventually dies in a hospital

Krakauer comments on how strange it is that more people at home with internet access were able to following Ngawang's story than people who were actually on the mountain. This leads him into a discussion of the websites broadcast from Everest by a number of teams, including a group filming an IMAX movie. An Internet correspondent with Fischer's team, Sandy Pittman, dispatches information for NBC Interactive Media. Pittman had attempted to climb the mountain three times in the past, and this time is accompanied by much publicity and fanfare. Sandy had announced her intention to become the first woman to climb the highest mountain on each of the continents. She climbed them all except for Everest, but another woman finished all seven first.

Analysis

The acclimatizing is getting easier, but the stakes are getting higher. Krakauer sees two dead bodies in this chapter and is aware of the presence of death on the mountain. So far, he has regaled the reader with stories about famous climbers and their accidents or deaths. He has told the reader about the myriad dangerous associated with climbing Everest. However, actually seeing the bodies is entirely different. Now, there is nothing separating Krakauer from all the stories and from the knowledge that people die on the mountain. The prospect is so troubling that "few of the climbers trudging by had given either corpse more than a passing glance. It was as if there was an unspoken agreement on the mountain to pretend that these desiccated remains weren't real—as if none of us dared to acknowledge what was at stake here" (137).

What subsequently happens to Ngawang drives home the seriousness of their undertaking even further. Ngawang isn't an inexperienced climber; he is a Sherpa, and he falls victim to sickness so severely that descending doesn't save him. He is the second Sherpa to be injured thus far, and it doesn't bode well for the rest of the journey. But Krakauer and everyone else press on, not really allowing themselves to fully absorb the import of the disastrous events that are taking place.

The idea that people in their homes across the world can learn what is happening on Everest before the other climbers can is amazing. It diminishes the remoteness of the location, but only one way—the people at home might feel slightly closer to what is happening there, but the climbers on the mountain do not necessarily feel any closer to home. More than that, there is a feeling of voyeurism, of people observing the grueling and at times traumatic events that take place.

Pittman plays an instrumental role in the distribution of images and information from Everest. Her savvy and involvement in the media seem to undercut her skill and worth as a mountain climber. She is yet another person who is climbing the mountain for a reason other than to actually achieve it. Woodall, some of the other guides, the IMAX filming group, Pittman and Krakauer all have motives that extend beyond simply wanting to reach the top of the world. The reader doesn't necessarily associate Krakauer with ulterior motives, especially since he is the person bringing us the accounts, but he wouldn't have set foot on the mountain had he not been hired to do so. Even the Sherpas are on the mountain because they are being paid to help others climb. The presence of the film and internet crews further cement the idea that perhaps no one is on the mountain simply to climb it, and that everyone on the mountain is attached to a business or commercial venture.

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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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