Classic Krakauer by Jon Krakauer
eBook review copy; 160 pages
Classic Krakauer by Jon Krakauer is a very highly recommended collection of nine pieces written for various publications, including The New Yorker, Outside, and Smithsonian. As Krakauer notes "Most of the short pieces I wrote during the years between Eiger Dreams
and Into Thin Air vanished into the crevices of time and have been
forgotten. But Anchor Books has retrieved seven articles from this
period, plus two more recent essays, and rescued them from oblivion with
this new collection.." Personally, I recall reading several of these articles originally in the Smithsonian; they are what lead me to seek out anything written by Krakauer.
The articles include:
Mark Foo’s Last Ride: Mark Foo was a big-wave surfer who "made no bones
about his thirst for
fame or his strategy for
achieving it: ride the world’s biggest waves with singular audacity and
do it when the cameras were rolling." His last ride was the Mavericks in
northern California, a surfing location at the end of Pillar Point
Harbor, where some of the world's largest waves can occur.
Living Under the Volcano: Mt. Rainier poses a serious
threat to thousands of people who live in the shadow of the mountain.
Geologists warn that the volcano will erupt again, but there is no way
of knowing when that will happen. A serious threat is the fact that
floods of semiliquid mud, rock, and ice) can happen spontaneously, and
would roar down the mountain with destructive speed and power.
Death and Anger on Everest: Russell Brice of a company called
Himalayan Experience, or Himex, shocked climbers when on May 7, 2012, he
made an announcement that, for safety reasons, he was pulling all his
guides, members, and sherpas off the mountain. When a couple years later
the ice bulge Brice was concerned about did break lose, starting an
avalanche that killed sixteen, all whom were Nepalis working for teams.
This has instigated sherpas demands for better compensation and other
benefits based on the risks they take.
Descent to Mars: Located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park,
just a few miles from Carlsbad Caverns, Lechuguilla Cave is a forbidding
vertical shaft that you have to rappel down and then negotiate a
labyrinthine of passages as you go even lower. NASA scientists are along
on the expedition studying the microbes they hope to find there based
on the fact that life on other planets might be microbial and would have
have to derive its energy entirely from mineral
sources, or eat rocks, and this kind of life could exist on earth in
After the Fall: Two years after the unexpected, bizarre mountain
climbing accident that killed a man, a law firm brought suit against the
climbing instructor, the
school, and the company that manufactured the climbing equipment (that
the deceased used incorrectly) on behalf of the
Gates of the Arctic: In 1980, eight and a half million acres of the
Brooks Range in Alaska was set aside as the Gates
of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. This park is a vast,
untouched wilderness that contains no roads, trails, or campsites.
Loving Them to Death: After a young man died during
wilderness therapy program, it was clear that his death was not an
accident. His journal showed systematic abuse and neglect by the staff.
This begs the question about oversight for these programs and the people
who run them.
Fred Beckey Is Still on the Loose: "For longer than I’ve been climbing, for longer than I’ve been alive, the
most talked-about piece of writing in the sprawling literature of
mountaineering has been a mysterious tome known as the Little Black
Book." This book, written by Fred Becky, is rumored to be a list of the planet’s
finest unclimbed mountaineering routes.
Embrace the Misery: "Lately you've found yourself wondering if the end
of civilization might be at hand... [Y]our current angst should be
dismissed as unwarranted
paranoia. Most people in your privileged Western milieu have spent
their entire lives inside a bubble of peace and prosperity, but to
believe 'la dolce vita' will continue forever is delusional. Sooner or
later, the party always ends. Every great civilization since antiquity
has gone into decline, and you can’t really pin the blame on entropy.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the second law of thermodynamics, but
My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday.