Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air Characters

Jon Krakauer

Author and narrator of Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer is an experienced mountaineer and journalist who gets an opportunity to climb Mount Everest, thanks to the sponsorship of Outside magazine. Krakauer respects his… (read full character analysis)

Rob Hall

Rob Hall is a New Zealand-based mountaineer who acts as the leader of the expedition that takes Jon Krakauer to the summit of Mount Everest. He made a name for himself by becoming, along… (read full character analysis)

Anatoli Boukreev

A Russian climbing guide working for Scott Fischer. At various points in Into Thin Air, Krakauer criticizes Boukreev for what he sees as Boukreev’s overly distant relationship with his clients: instead of paying… (read full character analysis)

Andy Harris

A young, very likeable guide who works for Rob Hall, and quickly becomes a good friend to Jon Krakauer. Harris has never been to Mount Everest before he embarks on the expedition with… (read full character analysis)

Scott Fischer

A talented, charismatic mountaineer who dies in the May 10 Everest disaster. Fischer has a reputation for being the “bad boy” of the mountain climbing world, especially when compared with Rob Hall. Nevertheless, Fischer… (read full character analysis)
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Beck Weathers

Pathologist who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Weathers is one of the most inexperienced people on the expedition, and on the afternoon of May 10… (read full character analysis)

Doug Hansen

Postal publisher who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Hansen is one of the only people on the expedition with whom Krakauer feels any rapport; he… (read full character analysis)

Stuart Hutchinson

Cardiologist who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Hutchinson is an inexperienced climber, but after the events of May 10, he becomes the de facto leader… (read full character analysis)

Yasuko Namba

Japanese personnel director who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Namba is one of the most inexperienced people on the expedition, and on the afternoon of… (read full character analysis)

Makalu Gau

The leader of the Taiwanese team, Makalu Gau is an enthusiastic but not tremendously talented mountaineer. In the months leading up to the Everest expedition, Gau is involved in a dangerous accident on the slopes… (read full character analysis)

Deshun Deysel

Black South African woman recruited by Ian Woodall for the South African Everest expedition. Krakauer suggests that Woodall manipulates Deysel into thinking that she might be ascending Everest with Woodall and the rest of the… (read full character analysis)

Sandy Hill Pittman

Wife of Bob Pittman and well-known 1980s socialite, Sandy Hill Pittman is a “celebrity client” on Scott Fischer’s expedition. Although she is spoiled, and has to hire Sherpas to carry her extra baggage and… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Frank Fischbeck
Hong Kong-based publisher who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Fischbeck is a talented climber, though he suffers from severe fatigue at several points in the expedition. Ultimately, he survives the journey without serious injuries.
Lou Kasischke
Michigan-based lawyer who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Kasischke survives the expedition without any serious injuries, largely because he makes the wise decision to turn around on the afternoon of May 10, rather than continuing to climb to the summit.
Ian Woodall
The British-born leader of a South African Everest expedition, Ian Woodall is a tremendously unlikable man who selfishly manipulates his teammates for his own gain. He quickly alienates most of the people on the expedition, and is forced to recruit back-ups after his star mountaineer resigns in fury.
Pete Schoening
A legendary mountaineer who joins Scott Fischer’s Everest expedition, largely because he doesn’t want to wait for his permit to come through. The uncle of Klev Schoening.
John Taske
Doctor who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996. Taske survives the expedition without any serious injuries, largely because he chooses to turn around on the afternoon of May 10, rather than continuing to climb to the summit.
Martin Adams
A client of Scott Fischer.
Ang Babu
A talented climber working for the South African Everest expedition.
Ang Dawa
A Sherpa man who, in 1947, climbed 22,000 feet up the side of Mount Everest.
Ang Dorje
The head Sherpa climber, or sirdar, of Rob Hall’s Everest expedition.
Jan Arnold
The partner of Rob Hall.
Pete Athans
Highly respected guide working with his own expedition at the time of the May 10 Everest disaster.
Gary Ball
Close friend of Rob Hall, who dies in 1993 of cerebral enema (a rare disease caused by high altitudes).
Neal Beidleman
Guide working for Scott Fischer, and, after the expedition, one of the few people with whom Krakauer feels he can talk about his survivor’s guilt.
David Breashears
Old friend of Jon Krakauer’s, and the leader of the IMAX Everest expedition.
Chen Yu-Nan
A Taiwanese climber who dies after falling into a crevasse.
Guy Cotter
Climber who communicates with Rob Hall during the snowstorm of May 10.
Andy de Klerk
Guide for the South African Everest expedition.
George Everest
Surveyor General before Sir Andrew Waugh, and the man for whom Mount Everest is named.
Edmund February
South African climber, named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who resigns from the South African expedition out of dislike for Ian Woodall.
Alexandrine Gaudin
Ian Woodall’s girlfriend.
Mike Groom
One of the three guides working for Rob Hall on Krakauer’s expedition and, along with Krakauer, the only person on the team to climb to the summit of Everest and survive.
Andy Hackland
Guide for the South African Everest expedition.
Bruce Herrod
A deputy leader for the South African Everest expedition.
Edmund Hillary
New Zealand mountaineer who, with Tenzing Norgay, became the first human being to climb Mount Everest, becoming an international celebrity in the process.
Tenzing Norgay
Sherpa mountaineer who, with Edmund Hillary, became the first human being to climb Mount Everest, becoming an international celebrity in the process.
Tom Hornbein
Mountaineer who, in 1963, with Willi Unsoeld, became the first person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest via the highly challenging West Ridge.
Willi Unsoeld
Mountaineer who, in 1963, with Tom Hornbein, became the first person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest via the highly challenging West Ridge. Unsoeld was a close friend of Jon Krakauer’s father, and Krakauer grew up idolizing Unsoeld.
Ingrid Hunt
Medic for Scott Fischer’s Everest expedition.
Andrew Irvine
A British explorer who, in 1924, tried and failed to climb Mount Everest, dying in the attempt.
Linda Krakauer
Jon Krakauer’s wife. Linda was once an enthusiastic mountain climber, but a bad back injury prevented her from climbing ever again.
Göran Kropp
Swedish climber who shows remarkable caution by refusing to climb Everest on the morning of May 6.
Kami Rita
A Sherpa herder who falls to his death a few months before Krakauer begins his expedition.
Dale Kruse
A client of Scott Fischer, who suffers from HACE (a high-altitude disease).
Jim Litch
Himalayas-based doctor who helps with Ngawang’s treatment.
Lopsang Jangbu
Talented Sherpa climber who works for Scott Fischer, and idolizes him. Lopsang later confesses to Krakauer that he blames himself for Fischer’s tragic death.
Fiona McPherson
Wife of Andy Harris, a doctor who works in a Himalayan medical clinic.
Doctor Caroline Mackenzie
The medic for the team headed by Rob Hall.
George Leigh Mallory
A British explorer who, in 1924, tried and failed to climb Mount Everest, dying in the attempt.
Reinhold Messner
Mountaineer who succeeded in climbing to the summit of Mount Everest without using compressed oxygen, inspiring a generation of “purists” who believed that real mountaineers shouldn’t use extra oxygen for their climbs.
Ngawang Sya Kya
A Sherpa guide from Scott Fischer’s team, and the father of Lopsang Jangbu.
Ngawang Topchke
Sherpa guide who suffers from severe mountain sickness but, partly out of a sense of machismo, and partly for concern about his job, refuses to get treatment until it’s too late.
Edward Felix Norton
A British explorer who, in 1924, tried and failed to climb Mount Everest.
Bob Pittman
Co-founder of MTV and husband of Sandy Hill Pittman.
Radhanath Sikhdar
Bengali mathematician who in 1852 discovered that Mount Everest was the world’s highest peak.
Klev Schoening
A former Olympic skier who joins Scott Fischer’s Everest expedition, the nephew of Pete Schoening.
Tenzing
A Sherpa herder who works for Rob Hall occasionally.
Tenzing Nuri
A Sherpa guide from the Taiwanese Everest expedition.
Tashi Tshering
A Sherpa guide from Scott Fischer’s team.
Ed Viesturs
An American climber who is starring in an IMAX film about Mount Everest, which is being filmed at the same time as Rob Hall’s expedition.
Sir Andrew Waugh
Surveyor General of India in the 1850s, when it was officially shown that Mount Everest is the world’s highest peak.
Helen Wilton
A mother of four who, along with Jon Krakauer, joins Rob Hall’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1996.
Philip Woodall
The brother of Ian Woodall, and a member of the South African Everest expedition.