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Into Thin Air

Chapter 12

Summary Chapter 12

Krakauer's revelation about the isolation at camp is frightening. Krakauer realizes that his teammates might not be a safety net at all. "I felt disconnected from the climbers around me—emotionally, spiritually, physically—to a degree I hadn't experienced on any previous expedition…Each client was in it for himself or herself…" (213). These feelings are frightening, especially given Krakauer's earlier discussion about how important it is to be able to trust one's teammates.

There is a feeling of unraveling the higher they climb. Their health unravels, their minds and bodies unravel, their faith and trust in each other unravel and their confidence unravels. Perhaps the single reason for climbing now is momentum, already being so high up, knowing that there is relatively little to go before they can begin their descent.

Despite Krakauer's realization about each climber's isolation, by the time his group, Fischer's group and the Taiwanese team leave for the summit, "our fates were already starting to intertwine—and they would become more and more tightly bound with every meter we ascended" (215). Given the feeling of disconnectedness, this intertwining isn't necessarily positive, particularly since the Taiwanese team is involved.

Krakauer makes good time during the summit attempt—perhaps too good. He is forced to wait for the rest of the team at a number of different points, watching the precious time slip away. During one of those waiting periods, he sees Lopsang pulling Pittman. Krakauer's previous comment about the climbers being "intertwined" is realized in a literal sense. The difficulty of pulling another person up the mountain is impossible to imagine. The question surrounding the reason for Lopsang short-roping Pittman is strange—Pittman claims that she only let Lopsang pull her because she "'didn't want to hurt Lopsang's feelings'" (221). The conflicting accounts are the first of many Krakauer will notice while assembling his notes, due either to cover-ups, misremembering or the affects of high altitude on the mind and memory.