Krakauer traces Harris's steps in good faith—he cannot figure out how Harris could have not made it back to camp that night. He draws conclusions based on facts he believes are true, but nonetheless, the story is revised a number of times.

Initially, Krakauer believes Harris is safe, and radios Base Camp to tell them. Base Camp radios Harris's girlfriend, and spreads the news. Then, Krakauer realizes Harris is not at camp, and upon searching the mountain and seeing the footprints forms the theory that Harris accidentally fell off the mountain face. For two months, everyone associated with the climb and Harris's relatives believe that Harris met his death that way. Then, Krakauer talks to Adams to leads him to a totally new, startling conclusion.

This interlude surrounding the fate of Andy Harris demonstrates just how difficult it is to write a narrative about an expedition like this, and how hard it can be to receive accurate, factual information. People are concerned primarily about their own welfare, and do not always know what is happening with other climbers. People are also hypoxic, succumbing to the effects of high altitude on memory, perception and decision-making. Beyond that, some of the events that take place on the mountain are confusing, and require inferential deduction, which Krakauer attempts to employ to piece together what happens.

The revelation brought about by talking to Adams is one that throws all of Krakauer's research into question. This is a huge element of the narrative that Krakauer has gotten wrong not once, but twice. Besides accuracy issues is the question of what happened to Harris, which is the most haunting implication for Krakauer, particularly given how much affection he had for Harris.

This break in the narrative is necessary—this is not a detail Krakauer could briefly introduce within the narrative structure. It is important enough to warrant a complete halt to the story telling. Krakauer's technique of complete and abruptly halting the narrative successfully presses the reader into realizing the import of the questions resulting from the phone call with Adams. The narrative does not resume for the rest of the chapter, as if Krakauer cannot yet bear resuming the story, and must dwell—and make the reader dwell—on the implications of his discovery. The reader also realizes that this episode casts some doubt on the text as a whole, and that all the details reported by Krakauer are subject to heightened scrutiny.