The Unforgiving Mt. Everest: Analysis of J. Krakauer’s Into Thin Air

Arrogance on Everest

In Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, arrogance was the initializing factor that led to the disaster on Everest of 1996. Fischer and Hall’s competitive spirits along with their consistent cocky remarks, tamper with the team’s view on the expedition. Mt. Everest is a relentless, unforgiving killer and because of Fischer and Hall the team lowers their guard. “Hubris” (excessive amounts of pride or arrogance) played a major role within the weak decision making of the group. Fischer and Hall exemplify hubris on many accounts of what they said and did during the expedition. It is displayed in the multitude of foolhardy actions by Fischer and Hall. Hubris is demonstrated through their gloating, views, and decisions.

First, hubris is displayed by Fischer and Hall’s excessive gloating. Their words numb the minds of the team and ease their worrying of death. Fischer claimed to have “built a yellow brick road to the summit” (86). This is a precarious remark to have made because now the team’s view on the simplicity of Everest increased. Worsening the team’s view of the expedition Hall “bragged on more than one occasion that he could get almost any reasonably fit person to the summit” (354). Guides are reasonable to act confident, so they may attract more clients. Fischer and Hall go about this the wrong way and alter views of how risky Everest really is. A pitfall is around every corner waiting to obstruct someone. Gloating is one of the various aspects that made this expedition unsuccessful.

Next, their views on the expedition are corrupted through hubris. Fischer and Hall see this journey as a competition for who can get the most people to summit rather than panic about the safety of the team. This little game Fischer and Hall were playing was placed under tremendous scrutiny by Krakauer. Unfocused, Fischer and Hall could not protect their team, but not only this, they also couldn’t protect themselves. Upon entering the death zone of Everest, morality began to fade and a free for all began. Beck Weathers is left for dead twice in realizing, “I was in deep shit and the cavalry wasn’t coming so I better do something about it myself” (329). Fischer and Hall’s competitive views generated the chaos that led to the perishing of so many. This being an example to when Krakauer states “One climber’s actions can affect the welfare of the entire team” (47). Hubris controlled the way Fischer and Hall had viewed Everest as a competition which led to their downfall. They were not mentally prepared for the tiresome expedition and mother nature made them assure of that.

Last, hubris was a crucial setback in the decision-making of Fischer and Hall. Their decisions were not premeditated, and their plans were reasonably unclear. They first decide to leave some people behind and on other occurrences they wait back for other team members. “Extending the turn-around times may have been influenced to some degree by the rivalry between Fischer and Hall” (273). Krakauer explicates that the rivalry also interferes with the decisions they make. Their arrogance leads them to thinking they are making the proper choice. He also spoke that Hall had “had uncommonly good luck with weather and it might have skewered his judgment” (272). This is hubris on another occasion leading him to make unwise decisions. Krakauer remarks about how Fischer and Hall are outstanding climbers but because of hubris they made one unintelligent decision after another.

Overall Fischer and Hall were struck with bad luck. Everest is a gamble and if you don’t play your cards properly, your life is in endangerment. Hubris took effect on Fischer and Hall; they lost the game taking along the lives of many others. Hubris is revealed by their bragging, perspectives, and choices. It was hubris that led the group into thinking they were invincible. Hubris led the group into thinking Everest was simple. Hubris led them to their death.

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