/ Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
What would one like to reply/ask if one was allowed to? I might ask him if the passing years had changed his somewhat embarrassing criticism of Anatoli Boukreev.
Boukreev was employed by Mountain Madness to, inter alia, look after its clients. He was successful, none of the MM clients died and he helped others.
A new nominee for an entry into my top 10 postings on UKC...
I might ask him if the passing years had changed his somewhat embarrassing criticism of Anatoli Boukreev.
Into Thin Air is a cracking read (he is/was a journo) but the criticism of Boukreev is a stain on his credibility. At least the American Alpine Club gave Boukreev the credit he deserved.
As for Krakauer Id lump him in with those who radio to base camp asking if dead men can wave their hand?
In “Into Thin Air,” Jon Krakauer, commenting on Boukreev’s speedy descent ahead of the clients, questioned Boukreev’s guiding credentials, “There is a world of difference between being a brilliant climber and an able guide.”
Boukreev replied, “I have considered what might have happened had I not made a rapid descent... I think it likely I would have died with the client climbers... or had to have left them on the mountain to go for help in Camp IV where there was nobody able or willing to conduct rescue efforts...”
Controversy aside, on the night of May 10-11, 1996, Anatoli Boukreev became a hero, and there are no arguments about that. What he did that night, nobody could or would do. He stepped into the darkness, into the heart of the raging snowstorm, into the gusting 60 miles/hr. freezing wind, into thin air, and single-handedly saved the lives of three stranded climbers from imminent death. Eyewitnesses described the visibility as "being in the milk bottle," and the force of the wind as "one hundred freight trains passing on top of you."
Recently, I stumbled upon the transcript of online chat with Lene Gammelgaard, one of the Mountain Madness clients, recorded on July, 21, 1999—more than 3 years after the tragedy. Here is a brief excerpt.
Q: Do you think that Krakauer’s criticism of Boukreev is well founded?
A: I think Boukreev deserved a lot of credit, as he was the only human being capable of saving lives in the storm.
Q. Do you think he made any mistakes that may have hastened the loss of life?
In her book, “Climbing High,” (published in Denmark before “Into Thin Air” and released in the US in 1999) Lene Gammelgaard wrote, “I was devastated on Anatoli's behalf by all the criticisms that he got. I couldn't really understand it. Anatoli, to me, was a pure mountaineer. He was extremely strong and he knew what the mountains were all about. Anatoli respected the mountains tremendously."
In early December 1997, the American Alpine Club honored Anatoli Boukreev with its highest award. The very prestigious David A. Sawles award, conferred only nine times in the previous 16 years, is given only to climbers who have "distinguished themselves, with unselfish devotion at personal risk or at sacrifice of a major objective, in going to the assistance of fellow climbers."
It must have been heart-rending for Boukreev, after all the criticism from Krakauer and some other climbers, to finally get some vindication. “I feel like the American Alpine Club has gone to great effort to understand a man from another culture”
Three weeks later, on Christmas Day, 1997 Anatoli Boukreev was killed in an avalanche on the slopes of Annapurna in the Himalayas.
Shortly before his death, Boukreev wrote a small inscription into “The Climb” for a fellow mountain climber from Kazakhstan, Mountains have the power to call us into their realms and there, left forever, are our friends whose great souls were longing for the heights. Do not forget the mountaineers who have not returned from the summits.
Anatoli Boukreev. Not forgotten.
Enjoyed your posts here, especially the last one. Cheers for sharing the quotes/details.
Some follow up.
Num Num is unsurprised by the inability to reply. There was a Kenton Cool (I think) premier post about a year back that ended in an embarrasing UCK slanging match which eventually got pulled.
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