BOOKS: DEATH IN THE CLOUDS

AN EVEREST SURVIVOR GIVES A GRIPPING ACCOUNT OF THE TERRIBLE NIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD

Last year, at about 1 p.m. on the 10th of May, Jon Krakauer, on assignment for Outside magazine, plodded toward the 29,028-ft. summit of Mount Everest. Sucking a lean mixture of bottled oxygen and air that only partly made up for the dire thinness of the atmosphere, he managed a single step to three or four heaving breaths. To his oxygen-starved brain, the world beyond his rubber mask, he writes, "was stupendously vivid but seemed not quite real, as if a movie were being projected in slow motion across the front of my goggles. I felt drugged, disengaged." A bit later,...

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