It was 1996 and John Krakauer was a client of New Zealander Rob Hall on guided climb of Everest reporting for Outside magazine. There was concern with the growing commercialization of the mountain. Guided climbing of Everest was a profitable business, if you have the money and aren’t too unfit you can pay to climb Mt Everest.
A record number of groups were going up as it was nearing the end of the climbing season. This was their last opportunity to get to the top, for some this wasn’t their first attempt. The clouds started closing in late afternoon and by morning five were dead.
John is an experienced mountain climber and was a client Rob Hall. One of Rob’s clients couldn’t make it back down the mountain that night, Rob chose not to abandon him, as a result Rob didn’t get down either.
The detailed descriptions of preparations, frustrations and the effects of altitude are interestingly presented, you really get a feel for the experience. He considers why people risk so much in their pursuit of Everest.
Like John’s book Under The Banner of Heaven about the Mormon faith, this is a big book, deeply researched. This book will be most enjoyed by an armchair sportsman 16+
Many New Zealanders over 40 will remember the news of the time, hearing the tragic phone conversations between Rob Hall and his pregnant wife over his last night. Then reading later that he may have made it down the mountain but chose not to abandon his client.