Reading Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer, was an experience that made the reader feel as if he or she was actually climbing on Mount Everest in the Himalayan Mountains with Krakauer himself. He brought the reader into the story by making the reader feel like an extension of the adventure. One way Krakauer made this possible was through his characters and how he described them. Whether it was the rich exploratory westerners or the humble local Sherpas, Krakauer conveyed these characters with as much truth and conviction as he felt necessary.
The first character of interest was Rob Hall. Krakauers depiction of Hall was, he stood six foot three or four and was skinny as a pole. There was something cherubic about his face, yet he looked older than his thirty-five yearsperhaps it was the sharply etched creases at the corners of his eyes, or the air of authority he projected (38). From that description alone one can gain an understanding of Hall. Hall is a well-respected man who is nearly a legend in his sport. Krakauer himself felt a connection to him; both men shared a passion for climbing. Krakauer later went on to describe Halls life growing up in a catholic family. After Hall dropped out of school, he worked for a sporting goods store where he had, impressive organizational skills, which were apparent even when he was sixteenhe was soon running the entire production of the company (39). It seems as though Hall was almost destined to become a leader, which appeals to a reader who likes to see others succeed. Halls demise was partly his fault, but he was not supposed to go out like that; frozen to death and left to die.
The next character that had an interesting description was Ian Woodall. Krakauers initial depiction was a South African man whom was a decent person. Woodall was gaudy, but only out of national pride. But only a page later did the bombard of crude remarks about Woodall come flying. Andy de Klerks perception of Woodall was:
Woodall, the leader, turned out to be a complete asshole. A total control freak. And you couldnt trust himwe never knew if he was talking bullshit or telling the truth. We didnt want to put our lives in the hands of a guy like that. So we left (125).
Furthermore, these comments from de Klerk suggest that Woodall was a not a well liked person on the Tibetan Jomolungma. But Woodall was just getting started. Later when the Adventure Consultants were in dire need of a radio, David Breashears, IMAX leader, declared, We knew the South African had a powerful radioplease lend your radio to Jon Krakauer. And Woodall said no. It was very clear what was at stake, but they wouldnt give up their radio (285). Woodall seemed to be quite selfish and made a lot of climbers tempers flare even though he knew the storm had begun to climax and take lives in the process. Woodall, through all the hatred surrounding him, managed to climb to the summit and return successfully; a feat that twelve others could not manage. The next character of significance and intrigue was that of Beck Weathers. Beck was left for dead along with Yasuko Namba some distance above Camp Four. While on a rescue mission, Hutchinson asked the Sherpas for advice and they said, Even if they survived long enough to be carried back to Camp Four, they would certainly die before they could be carried down to Base Camp (323). This was the first time Weathers was left to die in the arctic-like conditions. But Beck was a resilient chap and made it to Camp Four when Burleson saw a, persons bare right handit was none other than Beck Weathers risen from the dead (328). Then next time Krakauer and his group left Beck to die was when they headed to down to Camp Two. But Beck would not let that happen. Breashears was helping Beck, under his own power, descend down the massively steep South Col. Krakauer noted that given up for dead yet again, Beck had simply refused to succumb (340). Nevertheless Beck was looked over again. This time a helicopter came down on an emergency attempt to bring back those in severe circumstances. But Weathers did not go on the first flight back to safe ground; he was made to wait for the next helicopter. For the third time Beck had been overlooked. Beck Weathers was a hero; he showed determination and an iron will too strong to break.
The entire cast seemed to be brought to life by Krakauer and his animated and lively comments, remarks, and side notes. Krakauer used the poetry of his words to bring substance to his tome. It was pleasing to read the accounts on Everest from his perspective. Krakauer wrote a brilliant book that should be read for many years to come because of his superior writing ability.