Into Thin Air

Controversy

Krakauer's recounting of certain aspects of the ill-fated climb has generated considerable criticism, both from some of the climb's participants and from renowned mountaineers such as Galen Rowell. Much of the disputed material centers on Krakauer's accounting of the actions of Russian climber and guide Anatoli Boukreev. An experienced high-altitude climber and guide for Scott Fischer, Boukreev descended the summit prior to his clients, ostensibly out of concern for their safety and in preparation for potential rescue efforts. Boukreev later mounted repeated solo rescue efforts, saving several lives. In his book, Krakauer acknowledged Boukreev's heroism in saving two climbers' lives, but questions his judgment, his decision to descend before clients, not using supplementary oxygen, his choices of gear on the mountain, and his interaction with clients. Boukreev provides a rebuttal to these allegations in his book, The Climb.

Galen Rowell criticized Krakauer's account, citing numerous inconsistencies in his narrative while observing that Krakauer was sleeping in his tent while Boukreev was rescuing other climbers. Rowell argued that Boukreev's actions were nothing short of heroic, and his judgment prescient. “...[Boukreev] foresaw problems with clients nearing camp, noted five other guides on the peak Everest, and positioned himself to be rested and hydrated enough to respond to an emergency. His heroism was not a fluke."

The account has also been criticized for not informing the reader that the team members were receiving accurate daily weather forecasts and knew about the storm in advance.[4]

In Krakauer's 1999 paperback edition of Into Thin Air, he addresses some of the criticism in a lengthy postscript.[5]


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