If you'd given him a ride, what would you have said to him?

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Jon Krakauer: Into the Wild

February 19, 1996

How is his family doing? Where is the scholarship fund?
What did Chris weigh before he began to starve?
Wasn't death the predictable outcome of such naiveté?
This confirms my favorite magazine and Web site
If you'd given him a ride, what would you have said to him?
Will you be presenting in the East and Midwest?

If you'd given him a ride, what would you have said to him?
Q: Jon, if you were driving through Alaska and you picked up a hitchhiker like "Alex," who was heading into the wilderness with only 30 pounds of gear, what would you say to him? Would you try to dissuade him?
Claudine Chamberlain
[email protected]

A: Had I picked up Alex Supertramp hitching to Alaska, I would have gently tried to offer him some advice, tried to convince him that he was perhaps underestimating the seriousness of the challenge he'd created for himself, but I think I would have soon come to the realization that attempting to talk him out of his plans would have been an exercise in futility.

Actually, I have encountered a number of McCandless types over the years in the backcountry--usually brazen, impetuous young climbers with unrealistic schemes to attempt some crazy ascent or another--and I have tried to persuade most of them that maybe they should reconsider their plans given current avalanche conditions, or the weather forecast, or their lack of experience, or whatever. But I don't think my words of caution have ever had any effect. When you're young and cocky and self-absorbed, you are quite sure that you already know everything you need to know, thank you. You're disinclined to listen to advice from some clueless middle-aged dweeb like me who reminds you way too much of your old man.

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