Into Thin Air Questions and Answers
by Jon Krakauer

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What is Roberts saying about friendship on Everest? To what extent is this quote true based on chapters 11–15 of Into Thin Air? "How much of the appeal of mountaineering lies in its simplification of interpersonal relationships, its reduction of friendship to smooth interaction (like war), its substitution of an Other (the mountain, the challenge) for the relationship itself?" Support or refute using at least one specific example from these chapters.

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The quote from David Roberts, a long-time mountaineer, describes how the appeal of mountaineering, in part, stems from the fact that the real focus is the challenge of climbing the mountain. The magnitude of that challenge makes interpersonal relationships seem insignificant by comparison. The challenge also makes people into comrades pursuing a shared goal together, even if they have little in common when they are not on the mountain.

In other words, the shared goal of getting to the top of the mountain creates a bond among climbers even when no other apparent bond exists. Krakauer refers to β€œthe freedoms and pleasures of the hills,” that can create short-term friendships just by virtue of people being together on the mountain.

However, even within the book itself, this concept is disputed. One example is in the description of one of the climbers: Sandy Pittman. Krakauer paints Pittman in extremely unflattering ways:

An indefatigable seeker of public attention, Sandy made her name...

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