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91 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for those at sea level and rising
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...
Published on June 12, 2000 by Trixie

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tasty Leftovers
I was impressed enough by INTO THIN AIR, his '97 account of the previous year's Everest climbing disaster, that picking up a used copy of EIGER DREAMS was a done deal. I didn't pay enough attention when buying it, however( at a local used bookstore) to learn that it was a compilation of climbing-related stories he'd previously published in 'Outside', 'New Age Journal'...
Published on August 24, 2008 by Bruce King


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91 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for those at sea level and rising, 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.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Collection of Stories, 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.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I got vertigo reading this, November 9, 2003
By 
William F. Harrison (Fayetteville, AR USA) - See all my reviews
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
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Collection of Stories........., October 25, 2000
By 
G. W. Hodges (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.....read it. Then give it to a friend like I did. The Burgess Boys are worth the cost alone!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cliffhanger, October 6, 2000
By 
Willis (Juno, Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
"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.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising Variety, August 24, 1998
By 
If ever I thought that a collection of mountain climbing stories would be a little stale from lack of variety, EIGER DREAMS certainly shattered my preconceptions in this regard. Krakauer writes on a diverse assortment of subjects relating to outdoor climbing, superbly avoiding monotonous repetition. Whether musing about the derring-do spirit of the denizens of Chamonix, the flyboys of Talkeetna, or humoring the reader with candid confessions of what it is like to be tentbound, Krakauer displays great range, penetrating insight, and clear style with his writing ventures. I liked this book every bit as much as INTO THE WILD and INTO THIN AIR.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mountaineering and Mountaineering Culture, September 25, 2003
By 
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turn up the heat and secure your climbing harness!, November 17, 1998
A collection of brilliant stories from Jon Krakauer that will send chills up your spine and waves of vertigo through your mind. No one brings home the terror of dangling 2000 feet in the air by an ice ax like Krakauer. His wonderfully humorous (and occasionally downright absurd) depictions of characters and situations paint a memorable portrait of the anguish, the isolation, and even the occasional reward of cold-climate climbing. If you want to get close enough to vertical ice to feel the shuddering thunk of your ax as it bites into the Eisinglas, or high enough on an arctic slope to see your breath whisked away in a -40 degree gale without leaving the comfort of your living room, then this is the book for you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing introduction to the essence of climbing, February 9, 2001
By 
E A Glaser (Delft, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tasty Leftovers, August 24, 2008
By 
Bruce King (Seattle, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was impressed enough by INTO THIN AIR, his '97 account of the previous year's Everest climbing disaster, that picking up a used copy of EIGER DREAMS was a done deal. I didn't pay enough attention when buying it, however( at a local used bookstore) to learn that it was a compilation of climbing-related stories he'd previously published in 'Outside', 'New Age Journal' and 'Smithsonian'. I have nothing special against collections of previously published work. If I haven't read the material, what's the difference? But, as a writer myself, they always make me nervous somehow. Maybe it's the image of the writer badgering his agent about getting the cash flow flowing again and the agent placating him with, 'Why not pick some stories that aren't doing you any good anymore, the rights to which have reverted, and see if we can't make'em work the second time around?'

The included stories, with two exceptions (to me), are good, solid tales of blue ice and heartless rock and the maniacs who love both in vast quantities ... and vertical. They vary widely in specifics within that overall focus. Think of them as 'climbing canapes'. The two (out of 13) that put me off were a personality piece about two male climbing twins and juvenile delinquents, The Burgess Boys, and A Mountain Higher Than Everest?, a, to me, tedious examination of the history of the science of 'triangulation' or whatever gauging the height of mountains entails.
I heartily recommend that anyone lured by the image contained in 'Eiger Dreams', the title, skip'em.

I like Krakauer's writing persona and his style of reportage, but I'm not thunderstruck. I'm glad I picked it up for $6 in paper. I KNOW I'll read 'Into Thin Air' again, but 'Dreams' may be really yellow before it's opened again. The former, in fairness, had mainly to skillfully report a place and event that provided every conceivable element of breathtaking(excuse the pun)drama, high (see previous apology)tragedy and a worst case example of what happens when too many people abandon reason, common sense and a saving humility, preferring to let blind obsession become their guiding principle. And they all managed to do it, somehow, in the same place, at the same time.
After reading that, damn near anything would fall shorter.

I concede that that tale was a hard act to follow. It only followed it for me, however, having been published in 1990, six years before the catastrophe on Everest took place.
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Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains
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