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Climbing Mount Everest is Only Half the Battle

Jon Krakauer cleared the ice from his oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and straddled the summit of Mount Everest. It was 1:17 PM on May 10th, 1996. Krakauer, an accomplished climber and journalist, had not slept in 57 hours. He had not eaten much more than a bowl of ramen soup and a handful of peanut M&M's in three days. Still, he had reached the top of the Earth's tallest peak—29,028 feet. In his oxygen deprived stupor, he had no way of knowing that storm clouds forming below would turn into a vicious blizzard that would claim the lives of five fellow climbers. Yet he knew his adventure was hardly finished.

In his book Into Thin Air, Krakauer describes what he felt:

Reaching the top of Everest is supposed to trigger a surge of intense elation; against long odds, after all, I had just attained a goal I'd coveted since childhood. But the summit was really only the halfway point. Any impulse I might have felt towards self-congratulation was extinguished by the overwhelming apprehension about the long, dangerous descent that lay ahead.

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