If you are interested in books on adventuring, specifically mountaineering, then you have probably heard of the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster. There are two books from two of the hikers (honestly, there are probably more than that) which explains first-hand accounts of the events on the famous mountain. Below is a breakdown of each book, with a crowned winner. Let’s begin!
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: You have probably heard of this author. He is also famous for Into the Wild about the doomed adventurer Christopher McCandless. Jon Krakauer is quite the adventurer himself and Into Thin Air shows what he went through for his passion. He also speaks about each of the other characters and even adds a section at the end that explains the backlash of writing such a book. He writes in such a beautiful way that even though he details each hardship, each setback and each death, he still makes Mount Everest a compelling place to visit. At least for me. One thing to note, other than the emotional toll this adventure had on his psyche and the possible physical complaints one could only experience from an expedition such as this, he mostly made it home unscathed.
Left For Dead by Beck Weathers with Stephen G. Michaud: Beck Weathers was part of the team trying to make it to the top of Mount Everest. He mentions Jon in his book, just as Jon mentions him in his. However, Beck experienced quite a bit more of a problem. You see, he did not continue to the top the way Jon did. He stopped halfway due to eyesight problems, then he was Left For Dead as the title expresses due to passing out in the snow. He somehow wakes up, walks to camp and home alive. Mind you, he lost one hand and most of another, plus he had to have reconstructive surgery done on his nose due to massive frostbite. Only a brief beginning section is about this. The rest is his life and more specifically, his life with his wife.
Verdict: Both are beautifully written and I consumed both stories very quickly. I loved them both, however Into Thin Air is the winner because the book is about the expedition, whereas Left For Dead is more about his life. I read it for the adventure. I recommend both, but keep this information in mind when choosing Left For Dead.