How did you take notes while climbing Everest?

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine

Jon Krakauer

How did you take notes while climbing Everest?
Question: Jon,

Once again fantastic writing. Despite my feeling that I had read enough about your trip from all the articles, I couldn't pass it up, and I read Into Thin Air in less than two days. You rarely talk (in the book) about your actual notekeeping and writing while on the later part of the climb; how did you do it? With audio tape, notepad, or from memory, and under what circumstances would you ever go back to Everest?

P.S. Did you ever watch Caribou Bones? Thanks.

Paul Bonesteel
[email protected]

Jon: Dear Paul,

I normally prefer to use a tape recorder whenever possible, but on Everest that was not practical because of the extreme cold and harsh conditions. Instead I took voluminous notes. At Base Camp I filled two large notebooks with daily scribblings; higher on the mountain I carried a series of smaller reporter's notebooks in the breast pocket of my parka, and would diligently record conversations, weather conditions, and other observations throughout the day. All told, I filled something like seven spiral notebooks during the expedition. Additionally, after I returned to Seattle I conducted dozens of interviews with other survivors, totaling more than 100 hours and many pages of transcripts.

Some day, after I get my head together (perhaps in a year or two), I hope to return to Everest Base Camp during the off-season to pay my respects and reflect on what happened, but I will never again climb at high altitude — on Everest or any other 8,000-meter peak. That kind of climbing has lost all appeal for me.

I regret to say that my VCR has been on the fritz for a long while now, so I have yet to watch Caribou Bones.

N E X T   Q U E S T I O N

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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