Into The Wild


Chapter 14 to Chapter 15

Chapter 14 Summary

In next two chapters, Krakauer relates some of his own personal experiences as an adventurous—and sometimes foolhardy—young man. Based upon his own experiences and what he has managed to piece together from McCandless’s journal, Krakauer counters the suggestion that McCandless committed suicide. Krakauer believes that McCandless did not—even subconsciously—wish to die in the Alaskan wilderness. His death, according to the author, was decidedly accidental.

As a young man, Krakauer was “willful, self-absorbed, intermittently reckless, moody.” Like McCandless, he had conflicting feelings about male authority figures and rebelled against his father’s wishes for him. He was obsessed with mountain climbing and, at the age of 23, set out to climb the north face of Devils Thumb in Alaska—a challenging route that had never been climbed.

Krakauer quits his carpentry job in Colorado, drives to Washington and abandons his car, and then catches a ride on a salmon boat to Alaska. On his third day of climbing Devils Thumb’s north face, raging wind diminishes Krakauer’s visibility dangerously. He nearly falls into a crevasse, and is forced to stop. He camps out on a plateau to await an air drop of supplies, which are delayed by several days due to hard snowfall. Eventually Krakauer resumes his hazardous climb, but after a while he reaches a point where there is not enough ice for his picks to dig into. After striking rock several times, Krakauer is forced to admit defeat on the north face. He begins to work his way back down the mountain.

Chapter 15 Summary

Unwilling to give up completely, Krakauer spends the next three days chain-smoking in his tent and considering other routes up the mountain. A snowstorm rages the entire time. While smoking some marijuana, Krakauer catches the tent on fire. The tent—a new one he has borrowed from his father—is not destroyed, but is now thirty degrees colder inside....

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