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Himalayan Quest: Ed Viesturs on the 8,000-Meter Giants Paperback – February 1, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For mountaineers, the 14 peaks above 8,000 meters-all located in the Himalayan range near the border between China and India-have a special status. In 1986, Austrian Reinhold Messner became the first person to scale all of them without the use of supplemental oxygen. Viesturs is currently on a quest to become the first American to reproduce this astonishing feat. This book presents photographs from his expeditions on the 12 tallest mountains in the world. A world-class climber, Viesturs is blessed with an "unusual physiology"; his body's ability to process oxygen extraordinarily well allows him to remain unusually alert and vigorous even at oxygen-scarce altitudes. That clarity of mind is amply demonstrated in these stunning photographs. Viesturs emphasizes the difficulty of taking pictures at such heights and even charmingly includes imperfect shots (from a technical perspective) that have special meaning to him. Standout images include the vast, ridged, snowy valley framed by Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse; the "maze of crevasses" of the Khumbu Glacier in the Western Cwm; and the carpet of clouds draped across the several peaks of Makalu, Lhotse, Everest and Cho Oyu taken from the vantage point of Kanchenjunga. Replete with helpful maps, this book almost doubles as a travel guide; the lack of hotels doesn't make it any less informative for the tiny number of people eager to see these staggering vistas for themselves. No book consisting solely of prose could ever produce gasps like the pictures contained herein.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

A seasoned American guide much sought by organizers of commercial expeditions in the Himalayan Mountains, Viesturs has, when work permits, pursued a personal goal of ascending every 8,000-meter-plus peak in the range without using bottled oxygen. He will be the second mountaineer to do so if he succeeds in surmounting the only 2 on the list of 14 titans that have defeated him: Annapurna and Nanga Parbat. In the meantime, Viesturs offers this superb photographic record of his ascents since 1987 of Everest, K2, and the rest. Although he modestly disclaims being particularly skillful with the camera, Viesturs possesses an intuitive compositional appreciation for the grandeur of the scenery, for the play of sunrise especially. Moreover, his images viscerally show the vertiginous drop-offs at the summits. Viesturs' picture of Makalu shows his mates straddling its knife-edge top--standing would court an abyssal plummet. Admiring lowlanders will appreciate Viesturs' vistas. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (February 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792268849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792268840
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,597,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an incredible book. I finished reading it in 24hrs..I couldn't put it down. Its about Ed Viesturs journey climbing the worlds 14 highest summits..in his own words. Just incredible! The way the book is written its like Ed's right there sitting next to you ..telling you about his adventures. (very personable)The photography is just unbelievable..The way these climbers pack camera equipment and climb is beyond my comprehension. The photo of the climber "riding the ridge" Shishapangma..(pg 143) is jaw dropping!
I recommend reading this book!! Its a keeper!!
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Format: Paperback
This is a gorgeously produced book, and the photos are phenomenal. That said, it was not as detailed as I hoped for it to be. The official Amazon writeup describes this as "replete with detailed maps" -- there are small drawings of a few routes to the top, but they go no more in-depth than pointing out each base camp. Each individual summit mentioned gets three or four paragraphs of copy at most (sometimes less), and this copy is more likely to focus on how Viesturs got the specific photographs shown than on anything else. Discussion of specific challenges on each climb, landmarks on the way, etc., is extremely minimal.

Don't get me wrong -- if outdoor photography is your passion, this is a treasure trove, and the book is beautifully done on its own merits. But I don't think those merits are accurately summed up in the Amazon review, and as such, potential buyers may be misled into believing that this is a more detailed climbing book than it is.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't overemphasize the excellence of this book. The pictures are beautiful! Of course, Ed Viesturs had the most beautiful country in the world to work with but he did a wonderful job of capturing it. I especially liked the breath-taking views that were taken going up the mountains - the views of Annapurna for example. I can see why this is such a deadly mountain when you see these pictures. Also, the picture taken at sunrise at 27,000 feet hanging from a ledge on K2. Then there is the picture of the Nanga Parbat Diamar face - Wow! I could go on an on...

And, the prose is pithy - that is the most powerful word to use for it. There are three short write-ups at the beginning to set up the pictures, and excellent write-ups for each picture providing the context for it. In the write-up at the beginning, Ed Viesturs asks for our forgiveness for the poor quality of some of the pictures especially the one on K2 - is he kidding??? He is a humble man - no doubt - but these pictures are awe inspiring. And, I personally appreciate that he put the one at sunset on K2 in the book.

When compared with the book by Reinhold Messner, which this one is no doubt similar to, I would highly recommend this book instead. Ed Viesturs provides the map on how he arrived at the top of each of these dangerous and beautiful mountains, just like Reinhold's book. But, unlike Reinhold's book, the prose is pithy and has a high level of humility. Also, I liked the map of where each of the mountains are located in Nepal and Pakistan that was provided. This was an extra treat.

This is going to be one of my favorite books of all time. In Ed's section, he mentioned that he has many more pictures. I hope that he rewards us by publishing another book with further pictures. What a treat!
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Format: Paperback
Ed Viesturs has packed this book with magnificent photos of Himalayan mountains, particularly the peaks over 8,000 meters. His goal is to climb all of those peaks and to do it without auxiliary oxygen. Since the publication of this book, he has accomplished his goal. Mr. Viesturs is clearly a magnificent climber and Himalayan Quest gives you an extremely good idea of the ground he covered and the types of obstacles he had to overcome. Only a very few people in the world could have done what he has done. If you like spectacular mountain pictures, this is a book for you. If you are more interested in detailed descriptions of his climbs, read this book and move on to his new book No Shortcuts to the Top.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume should be regarded as an almost essential supplement to Viesturs’ No Shortcuts to the Top (2006). The impressive photographs in Himalayan Quest complement the narrative descriptions in No Shortcuts. Viesturs contends that he is just a casual photographer, and that he had to forego many great pictures in order to concentrate on climbing. Nonetheless, his file cabinets are filled with enough slides for a dozen books. From these, Viesturs selected his favorites for this book.

Himalayan Quest was published by the National Geographic Society, and reflects their customary fine work with pictorial images. All pictures are in color, and most are large format (there are 32 full page photographs, 6 page-and-a-half photographs, and 27 double-page photographs). Viesturs’ pictures are presented chronologically in 12 chapters, each devoted to a particular mountain or mountains. Each chapter begins with a single page summary of the climbs it covers, and includes small diagram(s) showing the routes planned and completed on particular mountains. There is also a useful two-page map of the Himalayas.

Reproduced in this book are panoramic views of the Himalayas’ awesome topography, its massive peaks and precipitous slopes, as well as climbers and porters in action, and the precarious sites on which they pitched their tents. Each photograph is accompanied by a detailed caption describing its location, the activities it shows, and identifying important peaks in the background.

Some peaks receive more attention than others. For example, two chapters (and parts of three other chapters) focus on Mt. Everest, two chapters deal with Annapurna, an entire chapter is given to Kanchenjunga and another to K2.
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