Unlike Krakauer and many readers, who have a largely sympathetic view of McCandless, some have expressed negative views about those who romanticize his fate. Alaskans have been particularly skeptical.McCandless has been a polarizing figure ever since his story first broke in 1992. Because he chose not to bring a map and a compass (items which most people in the same situation would have considered essential), McCandless was completely unaware that a hand-operated tram crossed the otherwise impassable river 1/4 mile from where he attempted to cross. Had McCandless known this, he could easily have saved his own life. Additionally, there were cabins stocked with emergency supplies within a few miles of the bus, although they had been vandalized and all the supplies were spoiled, possibly by McCandless, as detailed in Lamothe’s documentary. Yet Ken Kehrer, chief ranger for Denali National Park, denied that McCandless was considered a vandalism suspect by the National Park Service. The most charitable view among McCandless’s detractors is that he was somewhat lacking in basic common sense, i.e., venturing into a wilderness area on his own without adequate planning, preparation, and supplies was almost guaranteed to end in disaster.Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian wrote: „I am exposed continually to what I will call the ‚McCandless Phenomenon.‘ People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent […] When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail without even a map of the area. If he [had] had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament […] Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide.“Jon Krakauer defends McCandless, claiming that what critics point to as arrogance was merely McCandless’s desire for „being the first to explore a blank spot on the map.“ Krakauer continues that there remain extremely few areas on the world map that would be called ‚blank‘.
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