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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

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: #3,471,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

More info at www.edviesturs.com
Washington resident Ed Viesturs is widely regarded as this country's foremost high-altitude mountaineer. He is familiar to many from the 1996 IMAX Everest Expedition documentary and in 2002, he was awarded the historic Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorer's Club for outstanding achievement in the field of mountaineering. In winning the award, he joined an elite group of climbers including Sir Edmund Hillary. In 1992 he was awarded the American Alpine Club Sowles Awards for his participation in two rescues on K-2.

Viesturs is a professional mountaineer and works as a design consultant for several prominent outdoor equipment manufacturers such as Eddie Bauer and Timberland. He also represents companies such as Rolex and the Seattle Seahawks. He does corporate motivational speeches as well, touching on subjects such as Team Work, Overcoming Major Obstacles, and Planning and Preparation.

Viesturs has successfully reached the summits of all of the world's fourteen 8000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, an 18 year project he christened Endeavor 8000. His goal was completed on May 12, 2005 with his ascent of Annapurna one of the world's most treacherous peaks. He is one of only a handful of climbers in history (and the only American) to accomplish this. That year Viesturs was awarded National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year.

During the 18 year span to climb the world's highest peaks he went on 29 Himalayan expeditions and reached the summit on 20 of these occasions and stood on the top of Everest seven times. He climbs without benefit of an oxygen tank, which can be burdensome and potentially troublesome. Only a superior conditioned athlete can scale heights of 25,000 feet without artificial oxygen - a fact Viesturs has turned into an important metaphor for his audiences (i.e., that the key to the journey is in the time and energy invested in the preparation).

Viesturs motto has always been that climbing has to be a round trip. All of his planning and focus during his climbs maintains this ethic and he is not shy about turning back from a climb if conditions are too severe. In spite of his conservative attitude Viesturs has been one of the most successful Himalayan climbers in American history. His story is about risk management as well as being patient enough for conditions to allow an ascent. Ultimately, in his words, "The mountain decides whether you climb or not. The art of mountaineering is knowing when to go, when to stay, and when to retreat."

At the start of their 2005 season the Seattle Seahawks football team brought in Viesturs to speak to them about teamwork. The team and coaches incorporated some of his messages and ideas into their practices and games and went on to play in the Super Bowl that season. According to Viesturs, regardless of the industry, teamwork is the same: "It is an implicit trust in, and recognition that the person next to you is No. 1," he explains. "If we're climbing a mountain together and you slip and fall, I'm there to save your life" - which is the ultimate definition of teamwork. Another lesson Viesturs espouses is the importance of perseverance, or going step by step and not getting discouraged when working toward your goal. Viesturs recalls once being just 300 feet away from the top of Mount Everest when he had to turn back.

In October 2005 Viesturs best selling autobiography "No Shortcuts To The Top" was published and released by Random House Books. The book covers in detail Ed Viesturs' career as a mountaineer, how he prepared for his expeditions and his philosophy about how he managed the inherent risks.

Viesturs was born in 1959 and now lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with his wife of 13 years, Paula, and their children. He continues to go on adventures. On May 19th 2009 he made his 7th ascent of Everest. Most recently on July 8th 2009 made his 203rd ascent of 14,410' Mt. Rainier while guiding Seahawks Coach Jim Mora and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

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
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
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: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the second mountaineering book I've read by Ed Viesturs. This 160 page book read fantastic and the pictures of the mountain peaks and people are magnificent. Text was with Peter Potterfield and an Introduction by David Breashears ( done very well).

Ed says his primary concern was safety and climbing the world's tallest 8000M mountain peaks not photography. He only used one good camera and one lens as he did not want to lug around a lot of extra weight.

Ed's main sentence of wisdom on mountain climbing....Reaching the top is optional, completing the decent is mandatory! I learned most people died on the decent when they were exhausted, ill from altitude sicknesses, and tired thus making mistakes. A few times, Ed only a few hundred feet from the top turned around and descended and listened to his instincts rather than die. He says his biggest mistake was pushing on, making the top of K2 and not listening to his survival instincts to not continue. He made it to the top but almost died on the decent.

His pictures were spot on and magnificent. Most in focus and very good. One picture was soft and slightly blurred due to cold and a freezing lens held by one hand with insecure footing.

He goes on explaining his accents on the 8000 meter giants. Also some about people of Tibet and Nepal. All the world's 14 8000M mountains including Everest, K2 (hardest climb and most dangerous),Annapurna, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum 1 & 2, and the rest are in a giant crescent in the Himalayas in and around Nepal, Pakistan etc. when continental drift ....the subcontinent of India millions and millions of years ago smashed into Asia/China, creating the magnificent fourteen 8000 meter mountain peaks.
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