Monday, August 17, 2015

Jon Krakauer Calls Climbing Everest "Biggest Mistake of My Life"

Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer raised eyebrows a few days back when he said that he felt climbing Mt. Everest was the biggest mistake of his life. Krakauer was speaking at a Huffington Post Live event at the time, which was being used to promote the new mountaineering film Meru in which he appears. His response came after receiving a question from a young climber who wanted tips for taking on the world's tallest mountain.

During the exchange Krakauer revealed that since climbing Everest back in 1996, the now-infamous season that was chronicled so famously in his book, he has suffered from bouts of PTSD, and continues to struggle with the events that too place there. You may recall that in 1996 eight climbers lost their lives on the mountain, including legendary guide Rob Hall. Into Thin Air is also he basis of the new film Everest that will be released to theaters on September 18.

Krakauer became famous thanks to the book, which was a bestseller at the time and is considered one of the top mountaineering books of all time. But, he told the HuffPo Live crowd "if I could go back and relive my life, I would never have climbed Everest."

Those are strong words from a guy who is so closely associated with the mountain. But they also show you how much of an impact the events that took place there have impacted his life, and he's probably not alone. A lot of people climb Everest for many different reasons, and the experience means different things to each of them. But when something as dreadful as the 1996 season goes down (or the 2014 and 2015 seasons for that matter), it is going to stick with you for the rest of your life.

The author went on to advise the 11-year old climber who initially asked the question about climbing Everest to think long and hard about his decision to do so. Krakauer told him "It's a serious, serious choice," adding, "If you do it, if you go for it, you'll be making really important decisions where your brain isn't functioning because of hypoxia or you haven't had enough to eat. Meru is a much harder mountain to climb, but in some ways Everest is much more dangerous. The dangers are more insidious. They're not as obvious."

Strong words indeed from a man who knows what he is talking about.


Scott Mumford said...

Thanks for posting this. "Into Thin Air" is one of my favorite books--ever. I had no idea the climb affected Jon to this extent (his PTSD, for example). Some sober, hard-learned wisdom from this man.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

I just read Into Thin Air for the second time before blogging on this same subject. After you hear about his regret about going, the book reads quite differently.