Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Krakauer and the remaining clients begin their slow, painful descent on May 12. A few Sherpas catch up with the clients, including Lopsang, who tells Krakauer that he blames himself for Scott Fischer’s death.
Krakauer, Lopsang, and some of the other climbers already begin to feel intense survivor’s guilt—they blame themselves for the disaster, even when they had nothing to do with their peers’ deaths.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Individualism and the Group Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Around 1:30 pm, Krakauer and the clients reach Camp Two. There, the wind isn’t as strong, and it’s slightly warmer. Around 3 pm, a team of Sherpas rushes the body of Makalu Gau—weak, but still alive—to Camp Two. David Breashears gives word that he and a few other guides will be climbing down with Beck Weathers, and should arrive at Camp Two by dark. Later, Krakauer learns that Beck made an amazing recovery after his teammates left him behind.
In the aftermath of the snowstorm, some of the victims, such as Beck Weathers, recover, while others, such as Makalu Gau, remain in critical condition.
Themes
Danger and Mortality Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Individualism and the Group Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Breashears informs Krakauer that a helicopter is on its way to Camp Two. The helicopter can only fly one passenger to the hospital, however. Everyone agrees that this passenger should be Makalu Gau, who’s severely frostbitten. Late in the day, another helicopter arrives from Kathmandu; this time, the helicopter takes Beck Weathers to the hospital. The rest of the team prepares for the rest of the descent.
Here, as in the previous chapters, the group is forced to make a tough, pragmatic decision. Even though Beck Weathers is in serious need of help, he’s made to wait for a helicopter, so that Gau can receive even more urgent care.
Themes
Danger and Mortality Theme Icon
Individualism and the Group Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon