Into Thin Air Analysis

Words: 854
Pages: 4


Into Thin Air is a nonfiction novel that tells the story of the ill-fated 1996 summit push attempted by various climbing and guiding companies. The title Into Thin Air has both literal and symbolic meanings.

Firstly, the title is literal. The climbers were literally climbing into thin air as they ascended the mountain. As the groups climbed into higher altitudes, the air became thinner and thinner. This title could also refer to the limited oxygen reserves that each climber had. Almost everyone summiting Everest on Friday, May 10, 1996, ran out or nearly ran out of oxygen in their tanks. Only some were able to access another oxygen tank. In the area above 8,000 meters, dubbed the “death zone”, “survival is to no small degree, a race against the clock” (173).

The title Into Thin Air
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During the acclimatization period, the author, Jon Krakauer, becomes acquainted with his fellow climbers and learns about their backgrounds, both climbing and otherwise. The tone during this time is lighthearted. Krakauer seems to have a pleasant social attitude towards his fellow climbers, though he is uncomfortable with completely relying on them.

As the group began their Everest ascent, the tone is relatively calm. However, as the day wears on, the tone becomes increasingly more serious. Krakauer’s attitude toward the environment becomes increasingly hostile, as the environment itself becomes more and more hostile. The tone becomes very urgent as the turnaround time comes and goes and still climbers trudge on towards the summit. The climbers have very little oxygen left, and the mind-altering effects of HAPE and HACE, as well as other altitude-induced illnesses, set in. As the storms erupt in severity, so too do the situations of the climbers, and many do not prevail. As rescue and search missions depart, the tone becomes dark and somber, and drastically