"Ed Viesturs is not merely one of our strongest mountaineers; he’s also one of the most remarkable. He’s demonstrated that it’s possible to climb the world’s highest peaks without taking reckless chances, and without sacrificing one’s honor or integrity. He has never hesitated to help other climbers in need, even when it meant putting himself in danger or sacrificing his own opportunity to achieve a summit. Ed, simply put, is a genuine American hero.” —Jon Krakauer
"From the drama of the peaks, to the struggle of making a living as a professional climber, to the basic how-tos of life at 26,000 feet, No Shortcuts to the Top is fascinating reading."
—Aron Ralston, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place
"Ed Viesturs—the first American to climb all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks without bottled oxygen—is an animal. A human animal blessed with enormous strength balanced by intelligence, honesty, and a heart of gold. And besides, HE IS A NICE GUY.
This is a great read for those of us who climb, those who want to learn to climb and live to tell about it, and those who like great adventures." —Jim Whittaker, first American to climb Mount Everest
“Ed Viesturs was an inspiration to me personally and to the Seahawks team in 2005. I highly recommend reading this account of one of America’s heroes.” —Mike Holmgren, coach of the Seattle Seahawks
In the opening scene of Viesturs's memoir of his quest to become the first American to climb the 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000 meters, he and a friend nearly get thrown off the face of K2 when they're caught in an avalanche. It's one of the few moments in the story when his life genuinely seems at risk, as his intense focus on safety is generally successful. "Getting to the top is optional," he warns. "Getting down is mandatory." That lesson comes through most forcefully when Viesturs recounts how he almost attempted to reach the summit at Everest the day before the group Jon Krakauer wrote about in Into Thin Air, but backed out because it just didn't feel right. His expertise adds a compelling eyewitness perspective to those tragic events, but the main focus is clearly on Viesturs and his self-imposed "Endeavor 8000." From his earliest climbs on the peaks of the Pacific Northwest to his final climb up the Himalayan mountain of Annapurna, Viesturs offers testimony to the sacrifices (personal and professional) in giving your life over to a dream, as well as the thrill of seeing it through. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In 2005, Viesturs (No Boundaries: Spirit of Adventure) completed Endeavor 8000, a campaign to climb the world's 14 highest mountains without supplemental oxygen. He became the first American to do so. In this memoir, cowritten by veteran mountaineering book author Roberts (On the Ridge Between Life and Death), Viesturs chronicles his climbing career, starting with his summers guiding for Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and concluding with his success (after several attempts) on Annapurna, a series of peaks in the Himalayas. In between, Viesturs summited Mt. Everest as part of the 1990 International Peace Climb led by Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Everest, along with climbers from the Soviet Union and China. He credits his success in mountaineering to being not a rist taker but a risk manager. Decades earlier, a group of British climbers took big risks in pushing the boundaries of mountaineering. Willis (Ice: Stories of Survival from Polar Exploration) focuses his history on mountaineer Chris Bonington and the motley group of quirky characters with whom he climbed. This dramatic and romantic look at the "greatest generation of climbers" uses previously published accounts and interviews with the surviving climbers to describe the expeditions and what motivated these men. First ascents on Eiger's north face, Annapurna's south face, Changabang, Everest's southwest face, the Ogre, and K2 are detailed and dissected. Viesturs's book is a thrilling read, fresh in the story it tells. Willis's book is an exciting reprisal of some of mountaineering's most infamous climbers and the legends their expeditions created. Both are recommended for public libraries, although those with limited funds for this genre would be better served buying Viesturs's memoir. [For Viesturs's book, see Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.]-Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The bracing story of one man's 18-year quest to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter-plus mountains. Viesturs became the sixth man ever to accomplish that feat when he conquered Annapurna in Nepal, in May 2005. Almost equally inspirational is Viesturs's determination to somehow forge a living out of his passion for mountaineering. He realized early on that he must choose between his veterinary practice and his love for mountain-climbing, initially scrambling to earn a living as a house-builder and mountain guide until the idea of climbing all 14 of the world's highest peaks sent some corporate sponsors his way. Some unavoidable repetitions occur as we follow Viesturs and his various partners up and down the Himalayas, and the narrative never quite manages to make us appreciate the grueling conditions of the climb, or the sheer wonder of reaching the summit. Still, the author does a good job of outlining the logistics of mountaineering: the dizzying trails leading to base camp, the truckloads of clothing and gear required, even the difficulties of relieving oneself at 26,000 feet. In addition to his own remarkable story, Viesturs provides valuable portraits of the many other mountaineers, past and present, who climbed and sometimes perished on the same mountains. Particularly fascinating is his own account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest, made famous by Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. (Viesturs and his partners, having decided against a summit attempt due to deteriorating conditions, passed on their way down the doomed team of climbers heading up.) A self-described "purist" who reached most of his summits without the use of supplemental oxygen, the author invites our awe for the earlymountaineers who braved life-threatening conditions without the high-tech gear available to climbers today. Doesn't answer the question of what makes Viesturs and his fellow mountaineers repeatedly risk life and limb, but certainly inspires respect for their monumental efforts.