Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A day after the first attempt to reach Camp Three, the team tries again (however, Doug Hansen stays behind to let his throat heal). The team climbs up the mountain slowly. Most people, Krakauer observes, believe that mountaineering is a sport for reckless thrill-seekers. But while mountaineering can be thrilling, it’s also one of the most cautious, slow-paced sports. More than anything else, the key to mountaineering is the endurance of pain—fatigue, tedium, aches, sores, etc.
Mountaineering is an interesting combination of daring and caution. The basic premise of mountaineering is exceedingly dangerous—climbing to high, cold places. However, most serious mountaineers also take great precautions to keep themselves safe. But as Krakauer shows, even these precautions aren’t always enough to prevent a disaster.
Themes
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The Natural World Theme Icon
Individualism and the Group Theme Icon
Krakauer revises his opinions of some of his teammates at they climb the mountain together. Initially, he disliked Beck Weathers for his conservative politics; however, while climbing up to Camp Three, Krakauer begins to respect Weathers for his toughness and determination. Krakauer also grows to admire Lou Kasischke, Yasuko Namba, and John Taske—they seem to be serious, determined people.
Although Krakauer initially wrote off some of his teammates for being weak and incompetent climbers, he now begins to respect them for their endurance and drive.
Themes
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Krakauer becomes increasingly uncomfortable in his role as a journalist, as he senses that his peers are uncomfortable around him. One day, Beck Weathers confesses that Krakauer’s presence puts him on edge; however, he adds that he doubts Krakauer’s presence puts any extra pressure on Rob Hall.
After the accident, Krakauer will feel extremely guilty about his role in the disaster. One possibility that occurs to him is that his presence as a journalist made the other climbers less certain and more likely to get into trouble. Here, Krakauer establishes—perhaps to reassure himself more than anything else—that his presence pressured Beck Weathers, but not Rob Hall.
Themes
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Krakauer arrives at Camp Three, and immediately begins to help two Sherpas chop ice. Although he’s supposed to be adjusting to the altitude, he still feels lightheaded. Some mountaineers suffer from a disease called High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)—in which blood stops flowing through the brain, sometimes causing permanent brain damage. Recently, one of Scott Fischer’s clients came down with a case of HACE. While Krakauer doesn’t have HACE, he’s lost a lot of weight, and he’s torn some cartilage in his chest, which makes breathing painful.
As the clients ascend to the summit, they endure more and more injuries and medical problems. Even Krakauer, who’s lucky not to suffer from HACE or other altitude-related respiratory problems, tears cartilage in his chest.
Themes
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The Natural World Theme Icon
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Rob Hall leads his team back to Base Camp; he plans to climb from Base Camp and reach the summit on May 10, the same day as Scott Fischer’s team. The American and Taiwanese guided teams promise to rest on May 10 to make room for Hall and Fischer; however, the South African team makes it known that they’ll be traveling to the summit whenever they want, probably May 10, “and anyone who didn’t like it could bugger off.”
While some of the teams organize in order to ensure that they’re not all climbing at the same time, the South African team refuses to cooperate. When there are too many teams at the summit at the same time, we’ll see, serious problems arise.
Themes
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Commercialization Theme Icon
Individualism and the Group Theme Icon