|Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org|
This book is all about Krakauer's breathtaking narration of the events during the 1996 season of Mt. Everest expeditions. On May 10, 1996, known as the most tragic day in the history of Mt. Everest, four of Krakauer's teammates died including their team leader, Rob Hall.
I have always believed that these books, The Climb and Into Thin Air, have a raging "book war" because of the many disagreeing contents of each book. And that made these books more interesting and intriguing!
Now, I'll be sharing to you the things I have discovered from this book:
1. The highest mountain in the world was discovered in 1852 by Radhanath Sikhdar at the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India in Dehra Dun. The mountain was designated Peak XV and stood at 29,002 feet above sea level. (Currently, Mt. Everest stands at 29,028 feet or 8,848 meters.)
2. In 1856, the name Mt. Everest was given by Sir Andrew Waugh, India's surveyor general that time, in honor of Sir George Everest, his predecessor.
3. Originally, the Tibetans name the mountain Jomolungma, "goddess, mother of the world." While, Nepalis call it Deva-dhunga, "Seat of God." But now, Nepalis call it Sagarmatha, "goddess of the sky."
4. Mt. Everest was considered by explorers as the Third Pole after Robert Peary reached the North Pole in 1909 and Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1911.
5. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first men to scale Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953. Four days later, on June 2, 1953, was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The queen was happy to hear that a British team of climbers had successfully climbed Mt. Everest.
6. "The head lama of all Nepal" is the rimpoche. And a kata, a white silk scarf is presented to him for his blessing. This scarf is to be worn by the climber all the way to the summit of Mt. Everest.
7. Sherpas built stone altars for each expedition team in order to appease Sagarmatha. Before heading to the Icefall, all climbers will pass the altar, making sure that it is always on the right.
8. Colorful flags that are strung on the altar are prayer flags with written Buddhist prayers and an image of a winged horse on it. Sherpas believe that the horse will speedily carry the prayers to heaven. The term for the prayer flag is lung ta, "wind horse."
9. Before entering the Icefall for the first time, all teams must undergo a puja, a religious ceremony, to be performed by the head lama.
10. In a commercial Mt. Everest expedition during that time, clients usually pay about $70,000.
Anatoli Boukreev, one of the world's highly respected high altitude mountaineers and the author of The Climb, died in an avalanche while climbing Annapurna, the world's 10th highest mountain on Christmas Day of 1997. Jon Krakauer wrote in this book,
"Anatoli's death was extremely upsetting to me, as well, for a host of complicated reasons. In the wake of the accident on Annapurna, the debate over what happened on Everest in 1996 took on a different light. I pondered how things between Anatoli and me had come to such a state. Because both of us were stubborn and proud and loath to back down from a fight, our disagreement had escalated vastly out of proportion, diminishing both of us in the process."
Allow me to quote some words written by Jon Krakauer,
"I'd always known that climbing mountains was a high-risk pursuit. I accepted that danger was an essential component of the game--without it, climbing would be little different from a hundred trifling diversions. It was titillating to brush up against the enigma of mortality, to steal a glimpse across its forbidden frontier. Climbing was a magnificent activity, I firmly believed, not in spite of the inherent perils, but precisely because of them."
". . . .climbing mountains will never be a safe, predictable, rule-bound enterprise. This is an activity that idealizes risk-taking; the sport's most celebrated figures have always been those who stick their necks out the farthest and manage to get away with it. Climbers, as a species, are simply not distinguished by an excess of prudence. And that holds especially true for Everest climbers: when presented with a chance to reach the planet's highest summit, history shows, people are surprisingly quick to abandon good judgment."
Walt Unsworth wrote in his book, Everest,
"But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad. . . . Everest has attracted its share of men like these. Their mountaineering experience varied from none at all to very slight--certainly none of them had the kind of experience which would make an ascent of Everest a reasonable goal. Three things they all had in common: faith in themselves, great determination, and endurance."
Because of this book's thrilling account, I recommend this book to all adventurers and mountaineers.
Read my dream of Everest here-- A Dream to See Mt. Everest and the Himalayas.