Into Thin Air Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Into Thin Air' is a non-fiction account of Jon Krakauer's experience climbing Mount Everest in the midst of a deadly storm. This asset contains classroom discussion questions about this book.

Into Thin Air

What are your goals for the future? Do you have the grit and determination to weather the storms along the way? How do you know when it's time to make a new plan? These are questions students will ponder as they read the first-hand account of Jon Krakauer's dangerous Mount Everest climb. The questions in this asset will guide classroom discussions about Into Thin Air.

Chapters 1-7

The questions in this section introduce students to the characters, setting, and background of Krakauer's climb.

  • The book begins with Krakauer at the top of Mount Everest. Why do you think the author chose to start at the top? What do you learn about the mountain and the climbing environment in the first chapter? How and why does the author use foreshadowing?
  • Krakauer realizes that his descent is going to be more challenging than the climb. Why? What are some mistakes the climbers make?
  • Why do you think the author gives the history of Mount Everest? What inspired Krakauer to make the climb? If you had the opportunity to climb Mount Everest, would you? Why?
  • Adventure Consultants has faced some backlash from critics of guided tours. Explain the criticism and whether or not you feel it is justified. Rob Hall's business partner, Gary Ball, died during a climb. What impact did Ball's death have on Hall? How would you have reacted?
  • Climbing Mount Everest is expensive. What are some factors that contribute to the cost? What part does sponsorship play in climbing? How might financial obligations influence a climber's motivation to continue a climb in poor conditions?
  • How does Adventure Consultants prepare climbers? What does this reveal about the participants' physical and psychological readiness?

Chapters 8-14

This section contains questions that review Krakauer's climb to the summit and challenging descent to Camp Four.

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