Krakauer may not have invented the mountain-climbing book
but he certainly revived the genre. this book was followed not just by "responses" from some of the people named in the Mt. Everest Disaster (the Russian climber, the almost-dead Beck), it led to such works as "Dark Summit" "High Crimes" etc etc etc., reviving works that previously were known only to the elect, so to speak; high mountain climbers.
Krakauer's strength is his prose, as well as tastefully chosen woodcuts; he has a magazine article writer's eye for the extraordinary interposed with the personal and the dark. the characters leap to life, and so does Krakauer's personal take on life. the work is gripping; Krakauer's ear is perfect: the situation involving decisions matrix/ guide vs. climber ethics, personalities and their clash; republicans vs. democrats on the slope; the "society queen of everest" and the dirt-poor sherpas. the author's personal history (skipped that chapter, then eventually returned to it!)
a classic of mountaineering literature, and the book that revived the genre. good writing "sends a shiver down your back;" indeed