I loved this book as much or more as I loved Richard Preston's The Wild Trees. It was truly a page-turner. I have to admit I'm somewhat fascinated with the whole Everest thing and mountaineering, though I've never attempted it myself. I've actually set a goal to climb a fourteener in the next couple of years. I want to climb something like Shasta to see if it's a sport I'd actually enjoy (or if I just enjoy reading about it). Don't know that I'd ever attempt Everest, but I totally understand it.
One of the aspects of Into Thin Air I found interesting was the way Krakauer depicted the loneliness of climbing Everest. Krakauer is an experienced climber and all his previous expeditions were very team-oriented. But evidently there's something about the nature of climbing Everest that forces the climber to really depend on themselves and overcome their own mental and physical anguish, despite the fact that their supported by a team of dozens. It honestly made me think of church work.
In church we definitely have a team of people to rely on as we follow Jesus and tackle different missions, but sometimes I experience crushing loneliness in ministry. Maybe it's the nature of ministry, maybe it's a ploy of our enemy... Whatever it is, it can easily be crippling. I've often described discipleship as a team sport that requires incredible individual effort. My point is that no one can do discipleship for you. They can encourage you, support you, equip you... But ultimately, like Everest, it requires you making the decision to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
Part of this incredible story was a man named Beck Weathers. Who was twice left for dead on the mountain. He had been stranded, exposed overnight, severely frostbitten, and more. No one on his team could conceive a reality where he would be able to recover and make it down the mountain. He was once assumed dead, then found alive, and then abandoned as a lost cause -- left for dead (which is the title of his own book). To everyone's surprise though, he came walking on his own power, mummy-like, into camp. After another brutal night on the mountain he was even closer to death. His team decided to leave him on the mountain a second time! Beck was able to rally though and get down the mountain.
It's just a reminder to me that in this process of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, whether you feel left for dead, or are considering leaving someone behind that seems to be a lost cause --- I don't believe "lost cause" is in God's dictionary. Ask and allow the Holy Spirit to give you the extra power to keep going (or to help someone else keep going).