When I started reading Into Thin Air, I hadn’t realized Krakauer had actually summited the peak. When understanding dawned on me that this was his personal story, it lent a new sense of poignancy to the recount.
I had read about the frozen bodies of failed climbers on Everest before, so that was not surprising. What was new to me was the prevalency of altitude sicknesses and the debilitating mental effects of high altitude. Early in the story, Krakauer describes how a guide opened rather than closed an oxygen valve, wasting oxygen Krakauer desperately needs to make his descent. This indictment is shocking until you come across it again later, and you understand that it is normal to be somewhat out of your mind up there.