Jon Krakauer

From Academic Kids

Jon Krakauer (b. 1954) is an American non-fiction author and mountaineer, well-known for outdoor and mountain-climbing writing. In 2003, he entered the field of investigative journalism.

Life and work

Krakauer was born in Brookline, Massachusetts but was raised in Corvallis, Oregon from the age of two, along with two older sisters. He visited Mount Hood at age four and at age eight began mountain climbing with his father, including on the dormant volcano South Sister (the third highest peak in Oregon). He remembers his first technical climbing as being the last 50 feet to the summit of Three Fingered Jack, at age nine.

He competed in tennis at Corvallis High School and graduated from there in 1972. In 1974, he was part of a group of seven friends pioneering peaks in the Arrigetch Peaks of the Brooks Range in Alaska and was invited by American Alpine Journal to write about those experiences. Though he neither expected nor received a fee, he was excited when the Journal published his article. He graduated from Hampshire College in January of 1976. One year later, he pioneered climbing the Devil's Thumb in the Stikine Icecap region of Alaska, an experience he described in an essay included in his collection Eiger Dreams and in a few chapters of his bestselling book Into the Wild. Also in 1977, he met Linda Moore, a former climber, and married her in 1980. He began writing for Outside magazine, and she began a sewing business, around 1980. He was able to abandon part-time work as a fisherman and a carpenter to become a full-time writer in November of 1983. His freelance writing involved great variety; for instance, he wrote a monthly column on fitness for Playboy magazine in addition to his many works involving mountain climbing.

He is noted for climbing the west face of Cerro Torre in the Andes of Argentine Patagonia in 1992, then considered one of the hardest technical climbs in the world.

The bestseller Into the Wild was published in 1996 and secured Krakauer's reputation as an outstanding adventure writer. The book tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family who, after graduating from college, donated all of the money in his bank account to charity, changed his name to "Alexander Supertramp," and began a journey in the American West. Nearly two years later, McCandless was found dead in the Alaska wilderness. In the book, Krakauer draws parallels between his own experiences and motivations and those of McCandless. Krakauer also recounts the story of Everett Ruess, a young artist and wanderer who disappeared in the Utah desert in 1934 at age 20.

In May 1996, on assignment from Outside, Krakauer was in one of four Mount Everest summit-assault parties that sustained fatalities when they were caught in an exceptional storm high up on the mountain. His writing focuses on two parties: the one he was in, led by Rob Hall, and the one led by Scott Fischer, both of which got members to the summit but experienced difficulty during the descent. The storm, and, in his estimation, irresponsible choices by guides of both parties, led to a number of deaths, including both head guides. In 1997, he expanded his September 1996 Outside article into his best known work, Into Thin Air, describing those parties' experiences and the general state of Everest mountaineering at the time. It reached first place on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and was among the final three books considered for the General Non-Fiction Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

In 2003, Under the Banner of Heaven became Krakauer's third non-fiction bestseller. The book examines extremes of religious belief. Specifically, Krakauer looks at the practice of polygamy among fundamentalist Mormons and places it in the context of the history of the Mormon religion as a whole.

Selected Bibliography

As of 2004, he also edits the Exploration series of the Modern Library.de:Jon Krakauer

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