countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more vpcflyout Home All-New Kindle Explore the Vinyl LP Records Store sports Tools

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$15.82+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

People have always pushed to accomplish more. When one of my best friends took up mountain climbing well into his fifties after he back wasn't up to golf any more, I began to wonder what the sport was all about. Having remembered that Jon Krakauer is both a wonderful writer and an adventuresome climber, it seemed like I might learn the answers by reading this book. I was more than amply rewarded for my curiosity.

Knowing that adventures are better heard as a story rather than read, I also opted for Philip Franklin's reading for Books on Tape. This was a stunningly good choice. Mr. Franklin makes you feel like you are right there as you look down from dizzying heights of thousands of feet while being held up by a small patch of crumbling ice.

The diversity of the stories is remarkable, from those who want to set records for getting up dangerous new routes to those who want to set records for speed in sport climbing (lots of strength and technique but not much risk). I was very surprised by some of the stories, including the ones about climbing "impossible" boulders that might be only 30 feet high and tall columns of crumbling frozen water . . . unattached to any nearby rock.

Mr. Krakauer has a wonderful ability to bring you into the stories by recounting his own fearful beginnings as a climber and the ways that he has sought release from humdrum cares by climbing. You'll find yourself chilled to the bone in places, even though you may be sitting in front of a roaring fire. It's a great trip!

I don't think I'll take up climbing, but I am indebted to this brilliant exposition of climbing's appeal.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 1, 2002
Krakauer lives up to his strong reputation in this collection of short works. Do not expect a full book about the notorious Eiger mountain! That is but a small portion of this book. Look forward to meeting other climbs, from fifteen-foot boulders to the 20,320-foot Denali. Makes a nice plate of appetizers if you're interested in Krakauer's writing.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 9, 2003
I've read three of Krakauer's books including this one. Into Thin Air is eclipsed by Kenneth Kamler's Doctor On Everest, but Krakauer's own Under The Banner Of Heaven and Eiger Dreams are in a class by themselves. I have never had a fear of heights, but the stories in this book, particularly the one of his climb of the Devil's Thumb, a volcanic chimney in Alaska, lifting hundreds of feet into thin air is perhaps one of the most evocative pieces of writing I've ever read. If you are fascinated by mountins and the madmen and crazy women who climb them, this is your book. Either it will make you drop everything and head for the high remote places of the world, or render you at least sane enough to say, "I think I'll take my adventure in another way." Say in some weird polygamous community in southern Utah or northern Arizona. Krakauer knows mountains, and he knows how to take us with him, shaking, sweating and not daring look down, up a shear, icy face. This is great outdoor adventure writing. Highly recommended. wfh
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 25, 2003
Krakauer is fine author. His stories read like well honed long magazine articles and capture the drama and danger of high altitude mountain climbing (Into Thin Air) as well as mental soloing(Into The Wild).
Eiger Dreams is a collection of stories about mountaineering and mountaineering culture. This collection of a dozen or so chapters (I suspect all were magazine articles first) regales the reader with the danger of high-altitude climbing, the uniqueness of attitude among many of the climbers and a slice of the culture that surrounds the climbing world.
On the whole the stories are gripping and interesting. It falls short only in one or two instances when the author delves into set place stories like describing the town near Mt. Blanc that seems to derive it's personality from the towering rock and those who are drawn to it in great multitudes each year.
The chapters on individual climbs introduce the reader to the thrills and dangers of high-risk climbing, without the chance that one will tumble out of an armchair 10,000 feet to become part of a mountain. Particularly enjoyable are the articles on the North face of the Eiger, the author's own journey to solo climb Alaska's Devil's Thumb at age 23 and a chapter on the Burgesses -- two mountaineering hobos who combine moxie with single mindedness as they climb the world's tallest peaks. I also enjoyed the chapter detailing early attempts to divine whether or not Everest was really the tallest mountain -- some of the journeys associated with ascertaining the claims of competing peaks remind one of Scott's Polar expeditions -- fueled more by British resolve than planning and logistics.
One wonders at the bent of mind that draws climbers to the highest climbs. Mountains like Everest and K-2 are littered with well over a hundred corpses (it is to arduous in the thin air and brutal conditions to haul reachable bodies down -- and impossible for those who tumble a mile off the edge or several hundred feed down a crevasse). Something like one person perishes for every four who reach the summit of Everest. A strikingly large number of survivors endure amputations of fingers or toes. It is the same or worse at some of Nature's other monoliths.
This is a sport that makes auto racing and boxing seem like rational athletic endeavors. One is left to ponder why (perhaps no better answer exists than Mallory's "Because it is there") some are willing to risk life itself for the privilege of standing ten or so minutes atop one of the tallest mountains. Krakauer does not pursue this question directly, though the brief character sketches he paints of climbers -- including himself -- offers some conclusions.
A fast read and entertaining book.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 9, 2001
I've never climbed anything more challenging than a bunk bed, but after reading the essays in "Eiger Dreams" I felt like I had an insight into the thrills and terrors that attract mountain climbers to dizzying and dangerous heights. Krakauer says in his introduction that he doesn't just want to describe climbing, he wants the reader to begin to understand why climbers are so relentlessly obsessive about their sport. I think he was successful in this respect.
He also touches on many different aspects of the sport, including what it's like to be stuck in your tent for days on end; the rewards and repercussions of solo climbing; the challenge laid down by legendary climber Reinhold Messner, who eschewed pre-prepared routes and bottled oxygen; and the culture of climbing towns which are packed to the gills with climbers of varying degrees of skill and equipment.
My favorite essay is the last one, probably because it's the most personal to the author. In it he tells the story of how he quit his dead-end job and spent his last dollar on an ambitious attempt to become the first climber to scale the north face of the Devil's Thumb, an imposing Alaskan peak. This piece is repeated in Krakauer's later book "Into the Wild", but it is definitely worth reading twice if you have both books.
My only complaint is that I got more out of Krakauer's later books "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air", if only because they deal with a single narrative and draw the reader that much deeper into the lives of their obsessed protagonists. The essays in "Eiger Dreams" do not explore as deeply as those later books, but they still do a good job of reflecting the excitement and danger inherent in the sport.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 25, 2000
I've read Into Thin Air and Into the Wild so when I picked up this book in the Seattle airport after getting off Mt. Rainier I was hoping it would be as good. I wasn't disappointed.
An excellent mix of both adventure and mountaineering stories, I finished this book in no time at all. What really strikes me is the life that Krakauer has been able to lead. I only wish I had had the time and direction to attempt half of what this guy has done and then be able to write so candidly about it.
This book is first rate. From the stories about canyons in the Southwest to excellent climbing stories that focus not only on the terrain, but the personalities along the way, make this book enjoyable cover to cover. The fact that climbers are such an interesting cross section of society is vividly expounded on in this book. You finish feeling you know these folks intimately or at least relate to just about everyone as a friend or contemporary.
Buy it. Then give it to a friend like I did. The Burgess Boys are worth the cost alone!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 6, 2000
"I have fallen. I am dying. Please send help. Quickly!" Mountain climbing is on of the most dangerous sports in the world. This quote shows why in the book Eiger Dreams by Jon krakauer. This collection of memoirs is about adventures on mountains and the tragedies that occur on them everyday. This is a great collection of memoirs that are descriptive and very interesting. For instance, when he talks about he climbs, you actually feel like you're on the mountaiwith those brave sole. Even though there are one or two stories that are just boring, the rest of the stories are entertaining and keep you on the edge of your seat. For me, this book was a big page-turner. I wanted to read on from the first sentence to the last word. I occasionally drifted off, but I definitely wanted to figure what would happen next. If you like climbing, you will like this book. Another aspect this book excelled in was that it finished very strong. On every memoir that was recited, there was a good ending. They never left me hanging, and they connect to the memoir. The endings make a huge exclamation mark on an already great book. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. Even if you don't climb. It can have philosophical and physical significance for everyone. Like I said, there are some definite weak spots, but its worth reading through them. This book is typical Jon Krakauer, wonderful.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 12, 2000
How to do justice to a writer like Krakauer....well, he's such a good writer that I feel any review I write would suffer compared to the source. Nevertheless, here I go.
This is Krakauer's first book. It's a collection of his previously published articles on mountaineering (save the last one about Devil's Thumb which was written for the book.) What a gread read too whether you are an afficionado of the sport or, like me, you've never seen a pair of crampons in your life (by the way, those are a set of spikes climbers strap to their boots to support themselves and prevent slipping on icy slopes.) Some of the famous peaks that make an appearance here include K2, Mt McKinley, and the titular Eiger. Throughout you will read about some of the eccentric personalities in the international climbing community, personal triumph and inspiration, offshoots like bouldering and waterfall climbing, and horrific tragedy.
If you read Into Thin Air, you'll be surprised at how funny this book is. Krakauer displays a wry, self-deprecating wit in several of these stories-something the somber subject matter of the latter book didn't permit. The last one, about his decision to solo the Devil's Thumb in Alaska in his early twenties is hysterical.
Anyone who can make a story about being tentbound or the inventor of the perfect ice axe riveting deserves attention. If you are on the fence, just go ahead and get this book. It's definitely worth it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 28, 2002
"Eiger Dreams" is a compelling collection of twelve stories by mountaineering writer Jon Krakauer. Included are several first person accounts of his own adventures, including his life-defining attempt to climb the Devil's Thimb in Alaska as a young man and his later failed attempt to scale the Eiger face. Krakauer also failed in his attempt to climb Mount McKinley, but manages to say more with one of his defeats than other climbers do with their success.
Krakauer also proves himself to be a first rate reporter with his accounts of other mountaineering stories. Particularly good is his tale of John Gill, the man who practically invented "bouldering." Krakauer goes on to describe waterfall climbing, canyoneering and the horrors of being tent bound with his deft narrative touch. At 186 pages, and featuring his easily readable prose, the book is a delightful experience for those who like good adventure stories of the kind featured in Outside Magazine.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 21, 1998
Incredible. Breathtaking. Terrifying. These words don't even begin to describe this overwhelming hike to the edge of the cliff. I had to catch my breath and remind myself that it wasn't me hanging tenuously by a thin rope thousands of feet above the ground. As I typed this, I felt a tightness in my chest and shortness of breath.
Jon kept me interested and looking for more with every turn of the page. Each story held me captive out in the wilderness, or, high up on the edge of the world. How can Jon and the friends he writes about take so many chances? It may be that stepping up to the edge, and getting so close to death, brings them that much closer to life.
If you read "Into Thin Air", you owe it to yourself to read this one. It dispenses with the impending doom while replacing it with a whole lot of fun. This book is destined to become one of my favorites for escaping the humdrum of metropolitan living.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse