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Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains

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No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant victories and hardships more brilliantly than Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest essays and reporting, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska's notorious Devils Thumb. In Pakistan, the fearsome K2 kills thirteen of the wor No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant victories and hardships more brilliantly than Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest essays and reporting, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska's notorious Devils Thumb. In Pakistan, the fearsome K2 kills thirteen of the world's most experienced mountain climbers in one horrific summer. In Valdez, Alaska, two men scale a frozen waterfall over a four-hundred-foot drop. In France, a hip international crowd of rock climbers, bungee jumpers, and paragliders figure out new ways to risk their lives on the towering peaks of Mont Blanc. Why do they do it? How do they do it? In this extraordinary book, Krakauer presents an unusual fraternity of daredevils, athletes, and misfits stretching the limits of the possible. From the paranoid confines of a snowbound tent, to the thunderous, suffocating terror of a white-out on Mount McKinley, Eiger Dreams spins tales of driven lives, sudden deaths, and incredible victories. This is a stirring, vivid book about one of the most compelling and dangerous of all human pursuits.


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No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant victories and hardships more brilliantly than Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest essays and reporting, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska's notorious Devils Thumb. In Pakistan, the fearsome K2 kills thirteen of the wor No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant victories and hardships more brilliantly than Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest essays and reporting, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska's notorious Devils Thumb. In Pakistan, the fearsome K2 kills thirteen of the world's most experienced mountain climbers in one horrific summer. In Valdez, Alaska, two men scale a frozen waterfall over a four-hundred-foot drop. In France, a hip international crowd of rock climbers, bungee jumpers, and paragliders figure out new ways to risk their lives on the towering peaks of Mont Blanc. Why do they do it? How do they do it? In this extraordinary book, Krakauer presents an unusual fraternity of daredevils, athletes, and misfits stretching the limits of the possible. From the paranoid confines of a snowbound tent, to the thunderous, suffocating terror of a white-out on Mount McKinley, Eiger Dreams spins tales of driven lives, sudden deaths, and incredible victories. This is a stirring, vivid book about one of the most compelling and dangerous of all human pursuits.

30 review for Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Before the recognition he received for Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer was a serious outdoors type, writing about other serious outdoors types. In this collection of essays, Krakauer relates several stories of his personal adventures, one about a youthful, and maybe foolish venture to a particularly difficult climb in Alaska, another about his attempt at Eiger. And these are quite good. But I most enjoy Krakauer when he writes about the Damon-Runyon-esque characters who inhabit the Before the recognition he received for Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer was a serious outdoors type, writing about other serious outdoors types. In this collection of essays, Krakauer relates several stories of his personal adventures, one about a youthful, and maybe foolish venture to a particularly difficult climb in Alaska, another about his attempt at Eiger. And these are quite good. But I most enjoy Krakauer when he writes about the Damon-Runyon-esque characters who inhabit the world of extreme adventuring. For example, in Gill, he writes of John Gill, the world’s foremost practitioner of “bouldering” (think fly on ceiling) as someone who might really levitate. Two drunken brothers manage to have a crack at a surprising number of major climbs despite their disinclination to organization and sobriety in The Burgess Boys. Chamonix is a town in France Krakauer calls the “death sport capital of the world.” The story features a bar in which large screens entertain the crowd with diverse scenes of death and near death. It is laugh-out-loud funny when Krakauer illuminates the sundry ethnic conflicts, with particular attention paid to the creative insults each enjoy using on the other. It called to mind Python-like Frenchmen launching diseased animals at their English foes while calling out “come back here so we can taunt you some more.” While most of us are not likely to have a go at Eiger’s north face, work as bush pilots, try surviving hurricane force winds with temperatures so cold as to defy imagination while huddled in a torn tent or dubious ice cave at twenty-something thousand feet, it is a wonderful thing to have some crazy person who lives in that world to report to the rest of us what goes on there. Eiger Dreams is a fast, entertaining and informative read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is a wonderful collection of essays about mountain climbing. I greatly enjoyed Krakauer's book, Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster, and Eiger Dreams is just as good. Each chapter is an essay on some facet of mountain climbing. The first chapter is about climbing the Eiger. Other chapters are about climbing Mount Blanc and K2. Another chapter is about bouldering, and another is about the experiences of a bush pilot in Alaska, transporting mountain climbers to a g This is a wonderful collection of essays about mountain climbing. I greatly enjoyed Krakauer's book, Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster, and Eiger Dreams is just as good. Each chapter is an essay on some facet of mountain climbing. The first chapter is about climbing the Eiger. Other chapters are about climbing Mount Blanc and K2. Another chapter is about bouldering, and another is about the experiences of a bush pilot in Alaska, transporting mountain climbers to a glacier at the base of Mount McKinley. One chapter is about ice climbing, while another describes the experience of living in a tent for days on end, while a storm makes it impossible to get out. A small stream of dry humor runs throughout the book. You have to have a sense of humor to engage in some of these dangerous, sometimes mind-numbing activities. One chapter describes how a team of doctors spend their summers on the slopes of Mt. McKinley. They study the effects of altitude sickness, and has saved numerous lives. All on their own dime. Krakauer asked one of the doctors "why they volunteered to spend their summers toiling in such a godforsaken place." "Well," he explained as he stood shivering in a blizzard, reeling from nausea and a blinding headache while attempting to repair a broken radio antenna. "It's sort of like having fun, only different." While describing the heavy human toll among climbers of K2, a troubling question gets asked: "Should a civilized society continue to condone, much less celebrate, an activity in which there appears to be a growing acceptance of death as a likely outcome?" During one summer, one out of five climbers who attempted the mountain did not come back alive. When Krakauer told Coloradans that he intended to climb the Devil's Thumb (in Alaska) solo, they thought he had been smoking too much pot--they thought it was a "monumentally bad idea". But when he told Alaskans, they hardly reacted at all. They just wondered how much money there was in climbing such a mountain. I am not a climber, but I find that Krakauer's writing style is ridiculously engaging. He puts you, the reader, right there on the mountain and lets you know how it feels. For a collection of non-fiction essays, this book is a real page-turner. Highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    lana

    I came to each of Krakauer's works independently- I read "Into the Wild" first on a recommendation, and years later I read "Into Thin Air" because someone told me it would be a good insight into the effects of altitude (as I prepared to climb Kilimanjaro, a mild but high peak). Finally, I found this collection of essays and realized that somehow I'd read the final essay somewhere before, once. I can understand why some people think that Krakauer is a selfish bastard at times, because the very ac I came to each of Krakauer's works independently- I read "Into the Wild" first on a recommendation, and years later I read "Into Thin Air" because someone told me it would be a good insight into the effects of altitude (as I prepared to climb Kilimanjaro, a mild but high peak). Finally, I found this collection of essays and realized that somehow I'd read the final essay somewhere before, once. I can understand why some people think that Krakauer is a selfish bastard at times, because the very act of climbing is often a selfish one, in the eyes of others. Though Krakauer believes in the sacrosanct nature of the bond between ropemates, on Everest he notes that the nature of the beast drives many to an every-man-for-himself mentality. This is revisited in "A Bad Summer on K2" during a discussion of saving those near death at great risk to the lives of everyone else. Considering the effects of altitude on the human brain, I don't think any armchair philosophizing or moralizing applies here- people simply cannot and do not behave normally at 26000 feet, and everyone who climbs that high knows that to do so is to put your life on the line. Asking others to forsake theirs for a slim chance at saving yours... can we ever truly ask that of people? Every life is on the line in a storm. Is it more honorable to perish attempting to save someone (who may-and likely will- die despite your efforts) than it is to abandon them and hustle down to save your own skin? One reviewer commented on how selfish Krakauer was to risk his own life in such a callous manner as climbing the Devil's Thumb, and yet to risk his own life on Everest to attempt to save someone else seems more noble. Does anyone engaging in this armchair moralizing understand what it means to carry 180lb of dead weight down an mountain (without injuring the person further!) in bad conditions while you yourself are addled by altitude and saddled with gear, etc? I suppose these people think that such mountains should not be climbed at all. But there it is. Some people will never understand why others are so willing to hang their entire lives on a half-inch of steel kicked or picked into ice a thousand feet off the ground. I think Krakauer does a good job of explaining the clarity ones life and mind take on when circumstances require such uncompromising focus on what is immediately in front of you. I think other athletes and aesthetes may have an easier time grasping this mentality, and perhaps will get greater enjoyment from this book. I do wonder how the sport has changed in the last thirty years- many of these essays were written in the 80s and I imagine mentalities and technologies have changed things since then.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Mckinney

    Love Krakauer. These essays are somewhat dated, but still interesting and delivered in his inimitable style. The was the last book fo his I had not already read, and while it ranks near the bottom as far as favorites because of the datedness and form, I'm glad I read it and I hope he is working on his next.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    This is a collection of essays written at different times and publshed in various magazines. I didn't know a lot about climbing and climbers before reading this but I have to say I was fascinated by these stories from the beginning, and this fascination continued right through to the end. I also started down the proverbial rabbit hole and eagerly found out more mountaineering and the people who choose to do this highly dangerous obsessive activity. I've read Jon Krakauer before and want to read mor This is a collection of essays written at different times and publshed in various magazines. I didn't know a lot about climbing and climbers before reading this but I have to say I was fascinated by these stories from the beginning, and this fascination continued right through to the end. I also started down the proverbial rabbit hole and eagerly found out more mountaineering and the people who choose to do this highly dangerous obsessive activity. I've read Jon Krakauer before and want to read more from him soon as I really enjoy his writing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    In a previous book I had read by Krakauer "Into Thin Air"---about mountain climbing-- there was a quote that has stuck with me. One of the Everest mountaineers who chose not to try and help a climber (who subsequently died from being left behind) said this to justify his actions: "There is no morality above 26,000 feet". I had one foray into mountain climbing. It was 1998 and myself and two friends, Kevin and Lacey, were going to attempt the '14er' called Longs Peak. Out of all of the 14,000 foot In a previous book I had read by Krakauer "Into Thin Air"---about mountain climbing-- there was a quote that has stuck with me. One of the Everest mountaineers who chose not to try and help a climber (who subsequently died from being left behind) said this to justify his actions: "There is no morality above 26,000 feet". I had one foray into mountain climbing. It was 1998 and myself and two friends, Kevin and Lacey, were going to attempt the '14er' called Longs Peak. Out of all of the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado Longs is the most popular climb because of its easy ascent. Imagine my surprise when at 2 am I was stumbling about in a rock field not understanding why my eyes would not and could not stay open. I had a massive head ache and could not keep my eyes open. I was not tired, I was jacked up on Diet Cokes and adrenaline, and yet could not keep my eyelids open for business. I was sans head lamp and found myself stumbling over boulders the size of pumpkins. That was the end of my journey. About 4 hours of hiking and turning back at who knows what altitude--I'd like to say I made it to 12 :D), my ascent to Longs was ended. We faced a bear sighting ahead of us on the hike back to our car(not good when one is menstruating, mind you!) and I was glad to make it home to my little apt at 18-J. But I digress...shocking, I know. Since my wee little escapade into the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, I have always been fascinated by mountain climbers. And this book does not disappoint. Unlike other books on self-discovery (blah de blah de blah blah blaaaah) Eiger Dreams had some vivid moments of awareness that caused me to feel a real connection to the author. More importantly, it garnered a new level of respect for those who choose to make that their shining conquest. No, I will never know how it feels to summit Everest or climb, well, probably ever, over 12,000 ft, but Krakauer has a way of making the experience approachable and yet awe-inspiring at the same time. In one instance he describes climbing a thin spire of rock on the Devil's Thumb in Alaska. He recalls the sensation of being attached to the rock by only crampons and an ice ax, and the overwhelming pulling sensation to let himself release the ax and just fall...fall back into the awaiting ice that would kill him 3000 feet below. He knows it will kill him, he knows the physics of the actions, yet still describes how he could not help himself. Quite possibly, it was the pull of gravity he was feeling. Not unlike the sensation of being on a ship in the Med on the way to Crete, and looking over the railing at midnight with the waves crashing like blocks of ice on a solid black sea. I got "the pull". I was blissed out of my gourd with hopefulness and youth and love, and I honestly thought I could slip over the railing and survive. I wanted. To. Feel. It. This is a collection of short stories all interwoven on the foundation of mountaineering. Stories on glacier pilots who could land planes in white out conditions by knowing to 'turn left after a minute, turn right again after another minute' because they were so inured to the route they were traveling. This is about the vagabonds and street fighters who climb perilous mountains in Tibet without permits and hide in the tall grasses when they hear cattle bells going by. This is about a boy's desire to summit Devil's Thumb and 18 years later trying to master that picture he'd traced so many times on pg 147. If you are not into the outdoors, then this book will probably not impress you. If you believe that people who climb mountains are narcissistic selfish knobs who are only concerned about themselves (see above) then this is not for you. If you are married to a man who regales you with stories of men standing in circles around campfires and then waking to bears hours later in the dark...then you might appreciate this man's experiences. If you live in Colorado and know where Pearl Street is in Boulder, and have felt the pull, than you may relate to this man's story. If you have been to Europe and had to fend off a loved one's near manic obsession with parasailing, then you should read this book. John Menlove Edwards wrote the following, taken from him short story "Letter From A Man": "So, as you would imagine, I grew up exuberant in body but with a nervy, craving mind. It was wanting something more, something tangible. It sought for reality intesnely, always if it were not there....But you see at once what I do. I climb". Krakauer had a choice at the age of 8...go to Seattle and visit the Space Needle or go to the South Sister in Oregon and attempt his first summit. Glad he might the right choice.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Moe

    Although I enjoyed this collection immensely, the writing wasn't Krakauer's strongest -- in fact, I'd label it his weakest effort to date when compared with Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. With the exception of the last piece, "Devil's Thumb," the book was composed entirely of clipped magazine articles. And it showed. Complaints aside, however, the book was wonderful and showed a humanity that I haven't often found in other climbing/mountaineering/alpinist books. Reading it reminded me how much Although I enjoyed this collection immensely, the writing wasn't Krakauer's strongest -- in fact, I'd label it his weakest effort to date when compared with Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. With the exception of the last piece, "Devil's Thumb," the book was composed entirely of clipped magazine articles. And it showed. Complaints aside, however, the book was wonderful and showed a humanity that I haven't often found in other climbing/mountaineering/alpinist books. Reading it reminded me how much I enjoy these adventure-fluff stories -- they're my equivalent of a romance novel -- and it has been the impetus for me to get back into the non-fiction adventure genre. In short, read Eiger Dreams; it's a quick read, and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    After Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air made him writer-famous, his publisher started pushing this essay collection, originally published in 1990, for readers who couldn't get enough of Krakauer's tales of mountains and the people who (attempt to) climb them. However, a lot of those readers, like me, were probably somewhat let down by this early effort, which consists largely of pieces Krakauer wrote for Outside magazine. The articles describing various mountains and mountain towns were educational, After Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air made him writer-famous, his publisher started pushing this essay collection, originally published in 1990, for readers who couldn't get enough of Krakauer's tales of mountains and the people who (attempt to) climb them. However, a lot of those readers, like me, were probably somewhat let down by this early effort, which consists largely of pieces Krakauer wrote for Outside magazine. The articles describing various mountains and mountain towns were educational, but not exactly riveting, and the profiles of well-known climbers were not uninteresting, exactly, but left me with a distinct why-am-I-reading-this feeling. The one humor piece, about how to survive in your tent for days as a blizzard rages outside, made it clear that while Krakauer might be a funny guy in person, he is no humor writer (and I think the topics he's chosen to write his books on bear this out). This collection only really came alive for the last two essays, which, not coincidentally, are the two most reminiscent of Into Thin Air. One was an account of the horrific 1986 summer on K2, when 13 people died--more than had died on the peak in the past 84 years combined. Reading about the nightmarish conditions the climbers faced was absolutely riveting--although I felt guilty for deriving reading pleasure from their horrendous misfortunes, and at times was so disturbed I wondered if I'd have to hide the book. The final essay, and the only one written especially for this book, was a memoir-like rendering of the time when Krakauer, as a 23-year-old, abandoned his dead-end job and took off alone for Alaska with the brazen certainty that he was going to scale the Devil's Thumb via its most difficult route, and that doing so would change his life. This engaging, suspenseful piece made me hope that someday Krakauer will grace us with a full-length memoir of his various adventures and their (sometimes serious) fallout. So would I recommend Eiger Dreams? Well... not really. While I'm very glad I read the final two essays, I would say that on the whole this book is probably just for climbers and Krakauer completists. Everyone else would be better off reading Into the Wild and Into Thin Air instead.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sundeep Supertramp

    Indeed, Jon Krakauer is the master of the literature of Adventure... I always hated literature. They are always boring. But Jon has his way in literature. It is completely impossible for me to write so many worlds about a mountain. A mountain is a mountain for me. But for Jon, it is more like a book of worlds. I am damn sure that make him walk a tiny hill, in the outskirts of your town and he could write a book about it. That too, very interesting one. Hats off to him. About this book:- The descrip Indeed, Jon Krakauer is the master of the literature of Adventure... I always hated literature. They are always boring. But Jon has his way in literature. It is completely impossible for me to write so many worlds about a mountain. A mountain is a mountain for me. But for Jon, it is more like a book of worlds. I am damn sure that make him walk a tiny hill, in the outskirts of your town and he could write a book about it. That too, very interesting one. Hats off to him. About this book:- The description of the book claims to reveal answer for the most significant question, - why would a normal want to do this stuff (adventure stuff)? I, myself, several times, wondered the same. Why would anyone want to do something so dangerous, so life threatening; which doesn't earn a penny. So that is why I picked up this book. But the book doesn't give you the answer! If I am not wrong (if I haven't missed the story), there isn't an instance in the whole book, I felt that I found the answer. Instead, the book is a collection of 12 stories - 11 published by author in different magazines and newspapers, and the last one - THE DEVILS THUMB - is exclusive for the book. About the stories:- EIGER DREAMS It is a collection of stories related to the many climbers who tried to climb the mountain - The Eiger - when the author, himself, tried to summit it. GILL Personally, I enjoyed this story very much. It introduced me to the whole new new concept of 'bouldering'. The whole story revolves around John Gill, the person who first started 'Bouldering' and the concept of 'Bouldering'. To read the whole review, click the below link... http://booksreviewwala.blogspot.in/20...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    I read Eiger Dreams many years after Into Thin Air, which detailed the tragedy on Everest in 1996. Eiger Dreams is a compendium of magazine articles Krakauer wrote in the 80s. I always wondered how Krakauer could be such a selfish, cowardly, and ultimately detestable human being, as he admits being near the summit of Everest, as he cowers safely in his tent after his own successful summiting, while others freeze to death in a blizzard on the mountaintop. Well, now I know. Krakauer has always been I read Eiger Dreams many years after Into Thin Air, which detailed the tragedy on Everest in 1996. Eiger Dreams is a compendium of magazine articles Krakauer wrote in the 80s. I always wondered how Krakauer could be such a selfish, cowardly, and ultimately detestable human being, as he admits being near the summit of Everest, as he cowers safely in his tent after his own successful summiting, while others freeze to death in a blizzard on the mountaintop. Well, now I know. Krakauer has always been obsessed with mountaineering, especially ice climbing. And his particular brand thereof is the macho solo attempt, expemplified by his foolhardy ascent of the Devil's Thumb in Alaska, done without proper preparation, zero connection with the outside world, a callous indifference to the impact his death might make on those who love him (he never even mentions the loss his parents will feel at his death, should it occur, even though his death is constantly on his mind as he hangs by two ice picks 750 feet above the glacier). In fine, Krakauer is a narcissist apparently incapable of empathy or true sacrificial love for a fellow human. But he's a hell of a writer. When he dies in some stupid nature debacle, I, for one, will not shed a tear. He is who he is and his honesty about himself (it slips through in these essays and shouts full-throated in Into Thin Air) leaves no room for doubt: he will, eventually, get what he deserves. Nature, red in tooth and claw, is as honest and implacable in her truths as Krakauer is in his. We shall see who wins.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    What a page turner! And also the perfect book to drag along rock climbing or on a hike, which is what I did. I sat on a boulder and devoured this book until it was my turn to climb or belay. Krakauer’s narrative style is simple and straight forward but still evocative in its description of nature because he doesn’t add anything superfluous, and that’s as it should be- K2, Eiger, Chamoix, etc., do not favor the superfluous, and they certainly don’t need anyone to dress up their reputations. He dr What a page turner! And also the perfect book to drag along rock climbing or on a hike, which is what I did. I sat on a boulder and devoured this book until it was my turn to climb or belay. Krakauer’s narrative style is simple and straight forward but still evocative in its description of nature because he doesn’t add anything superfluous, and that’s as it should be- K2, Eiger, Chamoix, etc., do not favor the superfluous, and they certainly don’t need anyone to dress up their reputations. He draws senses of awe and fear from his reader by telling it like it is, and if you’re the outdoorsy type of person you’ll get it. I have no desire to try and summit McKinley, but I understand. Some of the information and “celebrities” are a bit dated as this was a collection of articles that he wrote in the 80’s but it’s a great look at the history of the sport, and the dangers that you might very well face today particularly the overpopulation on mountain peaks where few have earned the right to climb but many have paid to clutter up the slopes. All in all I was very impressed with Krakauer’s writing style and his subject, and I look forward to reading more in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Krakauer knows mountains and he knows climbing, personally. What he gives us in this collection of articles, memoirs, and musings helps a non-climber, like me, come closer to figuring out why these guys and gals are willing to risk their lives on a rock face. Those who have read his later works, including Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, will find some of this territory familiar. I, too, came to Eiger Dreams well after having other Krakauer works under my belt. Yet, his early storytelling techniq Krakauer knows mountains and he knows climbing, personally. What he gives us in this collection of articles, memoirs, and musings helps a non-climber, like me, come closer to figuring out why these guys and gals are willing to risk their lives on a rock face. Those who have read his later works, including Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, will find some of this territory familiar. I, too, came to Eiger Dreams well after having other Krakauer works under my belt. Yet, his early storytelling techniques were more than adequate. I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was stories and observations relating to key mountains in North America, Europe and the Himalayas. As well as, profiles of some of the most celebrated and notorious alpinists (those who know how to climb), and some oddball permutations on the sport including bouldering and ice climbing. At times, though he tries to talk to the layman, Krakauer will put together several sentences of alpinist jargon. A glossary would be a welcome addition to the copy I was reading. I terms of sheer enjoyment, he rightly uses his personal experience as bookends; covering climbs of Mt. Blanc and the Devils Thumb. His combination of humor and insight is a winner.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Jon Krakauer is one of my very favorite nonfiction writers. If you haven't read any of his books, then you must read either Into the Wild or Into Thin Air (don't start with this one). This book is somewhat similar to the latter, in that it deals with mountain climbing, but this is a collection of shorter pieces he published in magazines, whereas Into Thin Air tells the story of a particularly deadly season on Mount Everest. I am one of those people who cannot imagine wanting to summit Everest, w Jon Krakauer is one of my very favorite nonfiction writers. If you haven't read any of his books, then you must read either Into the Wild or Into Thin Air (don't start with this one). This book is somewhat similar to the latter, in that it deals with mountain climbing, but this is a collection of shorter pieces he published in magazines, whereas Into Thin Air tells the story of a particularly deadly season on Mount Everest. I am one of those people who cannot imagine wanting to summit Everest, who thinks that most of those serious climbers are just crazy. But Krakauer makes me feel like I can almost understand why these people risk their lives on such extreme climbs. The pieces in Eiger Dreams are set around the world--Alaska, Europe, the Himalaya--and introduce the reader to some of the interesting and slightly crazy people who climb mountains.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I first read this book Oct 26, 2013. Following is my review. This book has exciting stories of mountain/rock climbers all over the world. The first few had me on the edge of my seat. After that, however, the stories got old. The second time was Oct.20, 2017. Following is my review. The men and women in these short stories are ADDICTED to mountain climbing. Each story is about somebody’s insane desire to climb a mountain and the lengths they are willing to go to in order to achieve that dream. Eac I first read this book Oct 26, 2013. Following is my review. This book has exciting stories of mountain/rock climbers all over the world. The first few had me on the edge of my seat. After that, however, the stories got old. The second time was Oct.20, 2017. Following is my review. The men and women in these short stories are ADDICTED to mountain climbing. Each story is about somebody’s insane desire to climb a mountain and the lengths they are willing to go to in order to achieve that dream. Each of them spends time in imminent danger of death. It is exciting and educational to read about their stories. I, personally wouldn’t have minded if there were only half as many stories, however. I didn’t like reading on and on about so many scrapes with ice, winds and death. I did learn interesting things about some of the biggest mountains in the world, though, which was nice.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Patino

    So I approached this book thinking - I climb, I'm obsessed with mountains and Jon Krakauer is great, this should be fun. In the end I was like WHY AREN'T ALL OF THESE STORIES MOVIES!?!?!?! Seriously - every single story in here is just really fantastic. The most satisfying collection of essays I've read in quite a while.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Malu

    Jon Krakauer’s writing was very good. I think the best stories were around the author’s firsthand experiences climbing - the first and last chapters of the book especially. I really liked the last story, where Krakauer not only describes his experience summiting the Devil’s Thumb but also the aftermath. His descriptions of what was going through his head at different points as the situation became more dire were fascinating. The weakest stories for me were the ones that just centered around othe Jon Krakauer’s writing was very good. I think the best stories were around the author’s firsthand experiences climbing - the first and last chapters of the book especially. I really liked the last story, where Krakauer not only describes his experience summiting the Devil’s Thumb but also the aftermath. His descriptions of what was going through his head at different points as the situation became more dire were fascinating. The weakest stories for me were the ones that just centered around other climbers/climbing society - like The Burgess Boys or the Chamonix chapters. They were interesting, but not very impactful (for me).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laurent

    An interesting set of mountaineering tales Eiger Dreams is a collated set of articles and tales written by the author. The stories explore a wide-range of mountaineering-related disciplines from climbs in the Himalayan high-mountains to complex low-height bouldering. This is an enjoyable book that has some real standout tales that most non-climbers would never hear about; just a few of the stories I'd recommend are 'Gill', The Flyboys, Club Denali, Chamonix and The Devil's Thumb. Krakauer's writing An interesting set of mountaineering tales Eiger Dreams is a collated set of articles and tales written by the author. The stories explore a wide-range of mountaineering-related disciplines from climbs in the Himalayan high-mountains to complex low-height bouldering. This is an enjoyable book that has some real standout tales that most non-climbers would never hear about; just a few of the stories I'd recommend are 'Gill', The Flyboys, Club Denali, Chamonix and The Devil's Thumb. Krakauer's writing is particularly compelling to me because he goes beyond simply explaining the tasks involved in attempting/achieving a summit. He also focuses and analyses the psychology of the climbers, exploring their motivations, desires and weaknesses, which help the average reader to better appreciate and comprehend why people willing partake in an undoubtedly high-stakes pursuit. I note that the book's title is a slight misnomer, since only the first chapter actually deals with Eiger and this wasn't the best story in the book in my opinion. The book has a bit of a nostalgic feel to it given much of it is set in the early to late 80s - I loved the references to Fluro clothing! So if you like high adventure, I'd recommend this book. Given this is an early (the first?) Krakauer book, some leeway has to be given that it won't have the same impact as Into Thin Air nor Into the Wild, but it is still a worthwhile read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Terry Tyler

    Eiger Dreams is a terrific collection of (mostly) previously published articles by mountaineering maestro, outdoorsman and internationally acclaimed writer Jon Krakauer. I loved every one of these, there's not one single weak one. He writes about the summer when thirteen experienced climbers were killed on K2, about the glacier pilots of Talkeetna in Alaska who fly the climbers out to base camps under (a very risky business to be in!), and about the snobbery amongst the European mountaineering c Eiger Dreams is a terrific collection of (mostly) previously published articles by mountaineering maestro, outdoorsman and internationally acclaimed writer Jon Krakauer. I loved every one of these, there's not one single weak one. He writes about the summer when thirteen experienced climbers were killed on K2, about the glacier pilots of Talkeetna in Alaska who fly the climbers out to base camps under (a very risky business to be in!), and about the snobbery amongst the European mountaineering community of Chamonix. There is much humour, too ~ an amusing piece about the English Burgess brothers, Yorkshire 'scallywags' of the climbing world, and about the boredom of being stuck in a tent in inclement weather. Best of all, at the end, there's a longer version of Krakauer's own experience, when he was twenty-three, of taking on the fearsome Devil's Thumb in Alaska ~ on his own (as opposed to the one included in Into The Wild). It's thrilling, funny and fascinating all at the same time, and the more I read all of these the more I wanted to know about the unusual people who become obsessed with this most dangerous of sports. Very, very readable and highly recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robert Stribley

    I've read most of what Krakaeur has written and he never disappoints. In this case, his early writing (mostly from the 80s, magazines like Outside, where he made his name and Smithsonian) focuses primarily on mountain climbing, as well as rock climbing and canyoneering. The first book I ever read of his was Into Thin Air, where his writing of real life events read almost like horror, not due to any sensationalism on his part, but due to his crisp, searingly honest portrayal of what went down the I've read most of what Krakaeur has written and he never disappoints. In this case, his early writing (mostly from the 80s, magazines like Outside, where he made his name and Smithsonian) focuses primarily on mountain climbing, as well as rock climbing and canyoneering. The first book I ever read of his was Into Thin Air, where his writing of real life events read almost like horror, not due to any sensationalism on his part, but due to his crisp, searingly honest portrayal of what went down there on Everest. He brings that quality and tone to his writing here, too. He writes about the exhilaration and fear associated with this original extreme sport, so people like me can thrill to it vicariously. That said, Kathmandu and Everest base camp are on my bucket list and primarily due to reading Krakauer's writing over the years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    As always, love Jon Krakauer. Krakauer at his worst is better than 95S% of journalists and writers out there. I read this book while traveling in Switzerland and viewing the majestic Eiger myself, so that certainly helped me to understand the kind of dreamy romance Krakauer has toward climbing the largest mountains. It was clear that this was an early book of his and that he has honed his writing significantly since then--his groupie, fan-girl attitude toward climbers in this book is something t As always, love Jon Krakauer. Krakauer at his worst is better than 95S% of journalists and writers out there. I read this book while traveling in Switzerland and viewing the majestic Eiger myself, so that certainly helped me to understand the kind of dreamy romance Krakauer has toward climbing the largest mountains. It was clear that this was an early book of his and that he has honed his writing significantly since then--his groupie, fan-girl attitude toward climbers in this book is something that he managed to rein in almost completely by the time he wrote Into Thin Air. Because of his gushiness, I would say this book is one of my least favorites of Krakauer's--but again, totally worth reading and nice to see an early example of his writing. The short story format also makes for a nice quick read during a vacation.

  21. 4 out of 5

    A.S. Bond

    I received this book for Xmas from my husband as I really enjoy Krakauer's work. This one didn't disappoint. It is a collection of previously published articles for American magazines such as 'Outside', but as I hadn't read those, that wasn't an issue. Most do date from the 1990's, but apart from 'recent developments in climbing' type comments this didn't detract from the book at all. As ever, his work is vivd, engaging and thoroughly readable and this collection contains several stories that we I received this book for Xmas from my husband as I really enjoy Krakauer's work. This one didn't disappoint. It is a collection of previously published articles for American magazines such as 'Outside', but as I hadn't read those, that wasn't an issue. Most do date from the 1990's, but apart from 'recent developments in climbing' type comments this didn't detract from the book at all. As ever, his work is vivd, engaging and thoroughly readable and this collection contains several stories that were so hair-raising (such as landing a light aircraft on an Alaska mountain in thick fog), that I found I kept reading bits aloud to hubby, who is now reading it for himself!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashish Dasnurkar

    Fantastic stories of mountain climbing. armchair climber in me enjoyed this book a lot.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Jon Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams is a love story. It may not look or sound like a love story at first blush. But it is. It’s a love story between humans and “high altitude adventures” – some of which may be best reserved for the seriously unhinged. No book on "high altitude adventures" would be complete without a chapter on Mount Everest. Krakauer delivers, carefully chronicling the perils of trying to conquer “one of the largest landforms on the planet,” with a summit standing more than 17,000 vertic Jon Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams is a love story. It may not look or sound like a love story at first blush. But it is. It’s a love story between humans and “high altitude adventures” – some of which may be best reserved for the seriously unhinged. No book on "high altitude adventures" would be complete without a chapter on Mount Everest. Krakauer delivers, carefully chronicling the perils of trying to conquer “one of the largest landforms on the planet,” with a summit standing more than 17,000 vertical feet above its base. It includes “the usual:” cerebral edema, crevasses, “sledgehammer winds and hellish cold” above 14,000 feet and of course, frostbite. The book also includes lots of mountaineering trivia throughout. With an overall body count of 2,000+, for example, Mont Blanc is by “far and away the deadliest mountain on earth” (p. 92). Retreating from Everest, Krakauer whisks readers to frozen waterfall climbs in Alaska to Chamonix, France, to canyoneering in Arizona and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to “Club Denali.” Along the way, we pick up enough mountaineering lingo to at least fake it: pitch, crater, Cag, hypothermia, piton, Talkeetna, foehn winds, pulmonary edema, and Tigers Milk bars. The chapter on Club Denali is particularly brisk(pun intended). In this chapter the author describes his failed attempt to climb Denali, aka: Alaska's Mount McKinley. Along the way we meet a mountaineering menagerie of colorful characters including Adrian the Romanian, whose initial attempt to solo the highest mountain in North America excluded a tent, stove, and water – and apparently, brains. Also “The Honeymooners,” young newlyweds who “for reasons known only to them,” decide to spend it on Mount McKinley. We also meet Dick Danger and the Throbbing Members and others who are either seriously nuts or addicted to high altitude adventures – which may be the same thing. The story of world class climbing pioneer and bouldering maestro John Gill is also riveting, as is the author's tense narrative about his attempt to climb Alaska’s Devil’s Thumb, solo. Krakauer’s pace is crisp, his prose lithe. Eiger Dreams is probably best read with a steaming cup of hot whatever in hand. Enjoy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hopkins

    Jon Krakauer's pre-"I'm a big fabulous author" essay collection and it's amazing. As a huge fan of "Into Thin Air," I loved hearing him write about mountain climbing in general, whether it was his own experiences or talking about others who are huge in the sport. Some of his work in here is super funny, just the way he describes things...very enjoyable. I think all essays were written in the 80s at some point, and there's one about a disastrous year on the mountain K2 from 1986 where he goes int Jon Krakauer's pre-"I'm a big fabulous author" essay collection and it's amazing. As a huge fan of "Into Thin Air," I loved hearing him write about mountain climbing in general, whether it was his own experiences or talking about others who are huge in the sport. Some of his work in here is super funny, just the way he describes things...very enjoyable. I think all essays were written in the 80s at some point, and there's one about a disastrous year on the mountain K2 from 1986 where he goes into depth discussing whether it's cruel to leave a climber behind when your own life is at stake...knowing his own story ten years down the line on Everest when his own expedition had to make a similar call in leaving quite a few climbers behind, I think when he defended their actions, many thought he was just trying to justify his own reasons for putting himself before others...so it's quite eye-opening to see that his opinion never once wavered. How he defended the expedition in 1996 is exactly how he defends the K2 climbers who left their friends behind to die on the mountain ten years earlier. It was actually a bit chilling to read and take in but really a crap ton of people jump at Krakauer for not leaving his tent to search for missing climbers when it's like dude, in storms like that where everyone is dead tired, it truly is every man for himself and you know that going into it. Anyway, great read, I wish he was still climbing and writing about it because who knew reading about people climbing up snow and ice and rocks could be awesome?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    More adventures on the mountain from Mr. Krakauer. This book was a series of short stories about various climbs. I think the Snow Country review on the back cover sums it up pretty well, "Krakauer's rarest and most enviable skill is his ability to make himself unseen, so the stories unwind as though the reader were front-pointing up a Himalayan serac or hanging by a nubbin in an Arizona canyon." There were a couple of quotes I liked as people tried to explain the allure of mountain climbing. I th More adventures on the mountain from Mr. Krakauer. This book was a series of short stories about various climbs. I think the Snow Country review on the back cover sums it up pretty well, "Krakauer's rarest and most enviable skill is his ability to make himself unseen, so the stories unwind as though the reader were front-pointing up a Himalayan serac or hanging by a nubbin in an Arizona canyon." There were a couple of quotes I liked as people tried to explain the allure of mountain climbing. I think it's part of the crazy that all endurance sports participants can relate to: Page 72, "...it's sort of like having fun, only different." - Howard Donner Yep. Page 81, "I knew in an abstract, intellectual sort of way that it was a beautiful view, but I couldn't get myself to care about it; I'd been up all night; I felt totally strung out; I was just too tired." - Yates It's sad when the crazy hits in and you don't really care if/when you finish. It's just over and you're tired. And yet you find yourself out there doing it again, and again. I didn't bookmark it but there was a part towards the end where there's a quote that 1/30 people die trying to climb Everest (this was in the 80s) and that 1/5 die tried to summit K2. It is wild that even knowing those statistics people were still saying yes, sign me up! It would be interesting to see what the stats are today.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Eventually gave up on this book. I was really only interested in reading this as I have pretty much read all of Krakauer's work and I have immensely enjoyed them. Unfortunately for me, I just felt no connection between these pieces and myself. Like other says, you really have to know climbing to get why some of these pieces matter. He offers an interesting insight into the climbing world, however without being able to provide the depth that he can in his traditional books something is always lac Eventually gave up on this book. I was really only interested in reading this as I have pretty much read all of Krakauer's work and I have immensely enjoyed them. Unfortunately for me, I just felt no connection between these pieces and myself. Like other says, you really have to know climbing to get why some of these pieces matter. He offers an interesting insight into the climbing world, however without being able to provide the depth that he can in his traditional books something is always lacking in the stories. Obviously if you were reading the articles in a magazine (a climbing magazine for instance) then they will probably be informative but if you want to read about mountaineering & Jon Krakauer reading Into Thin Air. It provides more depth and vision about the realities of climbing that I think all of these articles put together ever could.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Two stars is supposed to mean, "it was okay" and sadly that is all I feel about this book. I thought that I'd like it as I do enjoy reading about people's adventures and found the two other Krakauer books that I have read (Into Thin Air and Into the Wild) to be quite good. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me. The book was broken up into sections of short stories/climbing history, some of which I found very interesting, but often I found myself spacing out while reading. Not his best work. Two stars is supposed to mean, "it was okay" and sadly that is all I feel about this book. I thought that I'd like it as I do enjoy reading about people's adventures and found the two other Krakauer books that I have read (Into Thin Air and Into the Wild) to be quite good. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me. The book was broken up into sections of short stories/climbing history, some of which I found very interesting, but often I found myself spacing out while reading. Not his best work. The last section on his arrogant attempt at Alaska's Devil's Thumb was engaging as well as a few of the other short blurbs about other people's mountaineering attempts, but all in all I was disappointed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    D

    3.5 stars. I've read (in order) Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven, Where Men Win Glory, and I'm looking forward to reading Missoula as soon as it comes out. I'd held off on Eiger Dreams, knowing that it was just a compilation or articles, but it's certainly a great book to tide yourself over. I don't have any particular interest in ice climbing, and others might not have much interest in some of the particular 'sports' talked about, but IMO, it was all worth reading and qu 3.5 stars. I've read (in order) Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven, Where Men Win Glory, and I'm looking forward to reading Missoula as soon as it comes out. I'd held off on Eiger Dreams, knowing that it was just a compilation or articles, but it's certainly a great book to tide yourself over. I don't have any particular interest in ice climbing, and others might not have much interest in some of the particular 'sports' talked about, but IMO, it was all worth reading and quite enjoyable. Devil's Thumb, the longest essay, is essentially a repeat from Into the Wild, though I enjoyed reading it again too.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Garrett

    I'm on a Krakauer binge, and I'm happy to do so. I understand these are taken from his newspaper writings, but I would have liked this more if he had written more. Krakauer has a gift for spinning yarns at once comfortable and harrowing. If he has meant to characterize mountaineering as one of the last bastions that reduces human beings and all our technology to the primal desires to overcome and to survive - he has done a good job. The shorter stories are forgettable, if informative; the longer I'm on a Krakauer binge, and I'm happy to do so. I understand these are taken from his newspaper writings, but I would have liked this more if he had written more. Krakauer has a gift for spinning yarns at once comfortable and harrowing. If he has meant to characterize mountaineering as one of the last bastions that reduces human beings and all our technology to the primal desires to overcome and to survive - he has done a good job. The shorter stories are forgettable, if informative; the longer ones are riveting. The last two stories about climbing a summit in Alaska alone and putting a microscope over Yosemite and its squabbling subculture are worth the read alone.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara Tucker

    I've been a fan of Krakauer's work since I first read "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air," and he doesn't disappoint with "Eiger Dreams." I was expecting stories mostly about Himalayan climbs, but was pleasantly surprised to find stories about bouldering, canyoneering, waterfall climbing, Alaskan summits, and glacier aviation. With his usual captivating voice, Krakauer teaches the reader (from seasoned climbers to those who've never stepped foot on a mountain) incredible things about both the ph I've been a fan of Krakauer's work since I first read "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air," and he doesn't disappoint with "Eiger Dreams." I was expecting stories mostly about Himalayan climbs, but was pleasantly surprised to find stories about bouldering, canyoneering, waterfall climbing, Alaskan summits, and glacier aviation. With his usual captivating voice, Krakauer teaches the reader (from seasoned climbers to those who've never stepped foot on a mountain) incredible things about both the physical and mental processes of climbing.

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