Book Review: After the Wind, Tragedy on Everest

Remember the book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer about the Everest tragedy in 1996? Well here’s another equally riveting account by Lou Kasischke, a member of Krakauer’s climbing team. Called After the Wind: Tragedy on Everest, One Survivor’s Story, it’s a book I couldn’t put down.

Although Kasischke wrote an account of the disaster 17 years ago, it’s just recently he was ready to share his version of the events in book form. His perspective and conclusions are markedly different than anything else you’ll read.

For instance, did you know Krakauer was embedded as a journalist without the other climbers initially knowing as “part of a financial alliance between Rob Hall and Outside Magazine? 

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After the Wind: Tragedy on Everest - One Survivor''s Story

There were several other disquieting revelations including the people who made up the leadership team. Kasischke had signed onto the climb when the team was going to be comprised of Rob Hall, Ed Viesturs and Guy Cotter, all of them veterans of Everest.

Just weeks before the trip was to start, Kasischke was told that Ed and Guy had other commitments. Mike and Andy, two newbies to Everest were to be the assistant leaders so right from the start organizational challenges were present.

A different account of the Everest tragedy

Reading a completely different account of what transpired on Everest is part of what makes this book so engrossing. Add Kasischke’s gripping description of what it’s like to climb the various sections of Everest and you may find yourself clutching your chair, and wondering why anybody would put themselves through six weeks of climbing hell.

Not only does the book give an account of the entire climb from start to sorry finish but it takes you along on a love story with his wife Sandy.

Kasischke credits her love and influence for giving him the inner strength he needed to make the right decisions to save his life. That’s a good part of the reason he has written the book now. Sandy is seriously ill so Kasischke’s goal was “to honour and pay tribute to Sandy while we are still together, to share our love story with others, and to thank God for the gift of her love.”

There are a few other reasons I really enjoyed this 317 page book. There are wonderful drawings and maps (no photographs), a list of all his mountaineering experience (considerable) and the writing feels like it comes from the heart.

Kasischke does leave you with questions. He had lots of doubts before even leaving the States, and even more regarding the climbing team once in Kathmandu.

But he didn’t listen to that inner voice telling him to abort – and you are left wondering why. My guess is once you plan, train, book time off work and pay for such a momentous expedition, it’s very hard to back out despite the niggling doubts.

To conclude this quote from Kasischke really resonated with me – “The truth in the story depends on who is telling it.”

After the Wind is a must read for anyone interested in adventure or mountaineering. 

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Further reading on hikes in the mountains

  1. My next adventure will be climbing Mt Baker with my daughter after she graduates from UFV this year. This is the breath-taking peak that dominates the skyline looking south from the Fraser valley. We’ve been planning for several months, and I can’t wait to make the ascent.

  2. Thanks for the heads up about this book. I’ve read 17 different accounts/perspectives on the 1996 Everest season/tragedy and I’ll look forward to reading my 18th. My next adventure is a return to Everest for my third attempt at the summit. I, too, love the East Coast Trail and I will be training on it tomorrow and every weekend until April. Whenever folks have told me that they’ve read in “Into Thin Air,” I always ask them to read “The Climb” by Anatoli Boukreev for it tells the story very differently (as does each of the books I’ve read about that time).

  3. Great review. Sounds like a nice book to read. I like to read many true adventure books. My next adventure will be a three day solo hike on part of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland, Canada.

  4. This book looks great! Thanks for the review. My next adventure will be ice climbing somewhere in the rockies. I’ve done lots in the past but have been sick for a few years so as soon as I hopefully recover ice climbing is one of my first ventures:)

  5. Great review. Like others I have also read Into the Wild, and recently saw the Everest movie. Looking forward to reading this book. As for next adventure … not much on the horizon but hoping to get out and explore locally the Kettle Valley Railway and bike several sections, hopefully including some overnight sections this year.

  6. What an interesting review, and Lou’s book seems to take a different perspective on the ’96 tragedy from anything I’ve read by Jon Krakauer or Beck Weathers. I’d also be interested in reading more about the mistakes on the mountain, and, even more so, the mistakes that may have even been made before arriving in Nepal. You can learn a lot from the decisions made in ’96, and as an upcoming alpine enthusiast I look forward to getting my hands on this book! My next adventure will actually be in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, India. Thanks for the review, Leigh!

  7. Read “Into Thin Air” and was engrossed by the drama. Would be interesting to get another view point. My next adventure is a circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc massif with a group of ladies I hike with in the Vancouver area. Very civilized – Refugio’s, fondue, and alpine splendor without carrying a tent or sleeping bag. Can’t wait.

  8. Can’t wait to read this! I suffered from altitude sickness quite badly at Everest Base Camp – can’t imagine actually tackling Everest. My next adventure is a solo 8 day hiking destination to a destination I can’t reveal yet, but am really excited about. I do my best thinking when solo hiking!

  9. Great review. I’ve read Into Think Air and it’s harrowing. I can also recommend Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void. As for my next adventure, I’m waiting very impatiently for my new Canadian work permit to be approved so I can head on home to Fernie. I don’t like missing out on winter in the mountains.

    1. @Mike I have read Into Thin Air (couldn’t put it down) and actually met Joe Simpson years ago. This is such an interesting book as the account is so different from Kraukauers and even Anatoli Boukarev (sp) versions.

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