Jon Krakauer was born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1954. He started mountain climbing at the age of 8 with his father. He graduated from Hampshire College in 1976 and in 1977 attempted the Devil's Thumb in southeastern Alaska, a sheer ice-dappled mountain. He wanted to hike in from the coast on the Stikine ice cap and then climb the mountain on a route never attempted by any other climber. After three-weeks however, Krakauer gave up after numerous setbacks. The story of his attempt is chronicled in his book, Into the Wild.
In 1992, Krakauer published Eiger Dreams, a collection of mountaineering essays. In 1996, Outside Magazine asked Krakauer to join an expedition to Mount Everest. Krakauer agreed, but that season on Everest turned out to be one of the deadliest ever. Four of his teammates, including the expedition leader, were killed when a storm engulfed the mountain. Krakauer was emotionally and physically scarred by the event but still continued to write the article which he later turned into a full-length book, Into Thin Air.
Into Thin Air earned numerous awards and made Krakauer a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Later that year he followed the story of a wealthy Virginia native who gave up all of his belongings to trek around the west and finally into the wilderness of Alaska. Into the Wild, tells the story of Chris McCandless who was found dead in an abandoned bus north of Mt. McKinley.
Krakauer spent most of the late '90s researching for his latest book published in 2003. Under the Banner of Heaven in not only the story of two brutal murders, but also of the radical faith of the murderers. He tells the story of Mormonism and Mormon Fundamentalism while examining his own religous beliefs and religous fundamentalism.