The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peak

The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peak

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by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts
     
 

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The bestselling author of No Shortcuts to the Top and K2 chronicles his three attempts to climb the world's tenth-highest and statistically deadliest peak, Annapurna in the Himalaya, while exploring the dramatic and tragic history of others who have made — or attempted – the ascent, and what these exploits teach us about facing life's

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Overview

The bestselling author of No Shortcuts to the Top and K2 chronicles his three attempts to climb the world's tenth-highest and statistically deadliest peak, Annapurna in the Himalaya, while exploring the dramatic and tragic history of others who have made — or attempted – the ascent, and what these exploits teach us about facing life's greatest challenges.
            As a high school student in the flatlands of Rockford, Illinois, where the highest objects on the horizon were water towers, Ed Viesturs read and was captivated by the French climber Maurice Herzog's famous and grisly account of the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950. When he began his own campaign to climb the world's 14 highest peaks in the late 1980s, Viesturs looked forward with trepidation to undertaking Annapurna himself. Two failures to summit in 2000 and 2002 made Annapurna his nemesis. His successful 2005 ascent was the triumphant capstone of his climbing quest. In The Will To Climb Viesturs brings the extraordinary challenges of Annapurna to vivid life through edge-of-your-seat accounts of the greatest climbs in the mountain’s history, and of his own failed attempts and eventual success.  In the process he ponders what Annapurna reveals about some of our most fundamental moral and spiritual questions—questions, he believe, that we need to answer to lead our lives well.
 
"Of all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which I climbed between 1989 and 2005," writes Viesturs, "the one that came the closest to defeating my best efforts was Annapurna.” Although it was the first 8,000-meter peak to be climbed,  Annapurna is not as well known as the world's highest mountain, Everest, or second highest, K2. But as Viesturs argues, Annapurna, while not technically the most difficult of the 8,000ers, is the most daunting because it has no route—no ridge or face on any side of the mountain—that is relatively free of what climbers call "objective danger"—the threat of avalanches, above all, but also of collapsing seracs (huge ice blocks), falling rocks, and crevasses. Since its first ascent in 1950, Annapurna has been climbed by more than 130 people, but 53 have died trying. This high fatality rate makes Annapurna the most dangerous of the 8,000-meter peaks.
Viesturs and co-author David Roberts chronicle Ed's three attempts to climb Annapurna, as well as the attempts of others, from the two French climbers who made the landmark first ascent of Annapurna on June 3, 1950, through the daring and tragic campaigns of such world-class mountaineers as Reinhold Messner and Anatoli Boukreev. Viesturs's accounts and analyses of these extraordinary adventures serve as a point of departure for his exploration of themes vividly illustrated by Annapurna expeditions, including obsession and commitment, fear and fulfillment, failure and triumph—issues that have been neglected in the otherwise very rich literature of mountaineering, and that can inform the lives and actions of everyone.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Viesturs (No Shortcuts to the Top), with an assist from writer Roberts, conveys the almost manic dedication and preparation of the accomplished mountaineers mastering such dangerous peaks as the perilous Annapurna. Quoting from Soviet climber Anatoli Boukreev, Viesturs, America’s most skilled high-altitude mountaineer, lays out the problems of humans scaling unforgiving terrain in the bitter cold without a margin for error: “High-altitude mountaineering is the most dangerous kind of sport; it has the highest rate of fatal consequence.” He knew the world’s killer peak, Annapurna, could be bested, for the French climber Maurice Herzog did it in 1950. Learning techniques from veteran achievers, he still failed twice to successfully plant a flag on the crest of the mountain, but he managed a triumphant climb of it in 2005. This is a detailed, nicely told account of a man’s endurance and perseverance in achieving a singular goal. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews

A veteran mountaineer chronicles his colossal quest to scale the Himalayas' 14 8,000-meter peaks, including the deadliest, Annapurna.

With the assistance of Roberts(Finding Everett Ruess, 2011, etc.),Viesturs (K2, 2009, etc.)returns with another true account of cliffhanging adventure. Viesturs was inspired by mountain-climbing icon Maurice Herzog's successful ascent of Annapurna in 1950, which was the first time anyone had reached the summit of that treacherous Himalayan monolith. After conquering most of the harrowing Himalayan range, in 2000 Viesturs finally prepared to take on the intimidating Annapurna. Interspersed throughout his own combative history with the Himalayas' "8,000ers" are historical accounts of other adventurous souls who've attempted to conquer these peaks since the 19th century. The author describes his own attachment to mountain-climbing as "tread[ing] between commitment and obsession," which is believable enough, since Viesturs certainly doesn't over-romanticize this obsession. Viesturs describes the successful exploits of the most formidable characters taking part in this survival-of-the-fittest competition, but often the most miraculous accounts are rooted in failure: In particular, French climber Jean-Christophe Lafaille's incredible 8,000-foot descent from Annapurna with a broken arm and no rope, followed by fellow mountaineer Simone Moro surviving a 2,600-foot tumble down the mountain's rugged face. Reinhold Messner, often considered the greatest mountaineer ever, was the first to conquer all 14 8,000ers. Though Viesturs' battle with Annapurna ended on a triumphal note, not every successful mountaineer gains a lasting sense of fulfillment from their achievements in the so-called vertical world. Unfortunately, the author only skims the surface of the psychological aspects that drive a person to scale a 29,000-foot mountain.

Lacks overall depth and scope, but good for vicarious thrill-seeking.

From the Publisher
Praise for The Will to Climb

 “The Will to Climb captures the essence and spirit of the great sport of mountaineering... For anyone who loves the outdoors and for those who admire the will of mankind, this book is a must-read.” Tod Leiweke, CEO of Tampa Bay Lightning

“Viesturs and Roberts have written an exhaustively researched and wonderfully compelling history of the most fascinating and dangerous of the Himalayan giants.” David Breashers, veteran mountaineer and documentary filmmaker, director of IMAX film Everest

“A detailed, nicely told account of a man’s endurance and perseverance in achieving a singular goal.” —Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307720429
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.06(d)

Meet the Author

Ed Viesturs is the first and only American to ascend all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. In addition to his collaborations with Ed Viesturs, David Roberts is the author of more than twenty books, including Finding Everett Ruess.

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