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The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peak Hardcover – October 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


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

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030772042X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307720429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

More info at
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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Erik Hemmingsson on January 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rank this book lower than both "No Shortcuts" and "K2" by Ed Viesturs, mainly because there is too much repetition with stories already covered in the previous books, and the somewhat unexiting, wandering writing.

Ed Viesturs is a person I really admire for his generous personality and outstanding sensibility, but he is no great writer. In this book I actually thought the writing was poorer than in both Shortcuts and K2, and the research felt more hurried. He makes up for his limitations, however, by wisely choosing to focus on Annapurna, and the abundance of drama associated with climbing that deadly mountain. I particularly enjoyed reading about the 1984 traverse by Loretan and Joos.

If you want more information about Annapurna, go ahead and buy the book, but if you are looking for a mountaineering book in general, you should consider buying Ed's previous books "No Shortcuts" or "K2", "Above the Clouds" by Anatoli Boukreev, or "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Antonio on October 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I've read both of Ed's previous books. Both were well written and kept you engaged. I was looking forward to reading his book on Annapurna. I expected it to be a lot like his book on K2 which was big best book to date.

While Obsession is a great book it falls a little short at times. You may find yourself reading and wondering where he is going. At times he branches off on different subjects that seem to have little to do with chapter being covered. Often these subjects are interesting but I think most of them may have benefited from being moved into another chapter.

What this book does well is it allows you to envision the elation and turmoil that comes from climbing these mountains. It also allows you to envision the almost alien landscape that is being traversed. In the end you almost feel like you went to the mountains yourself.

Overall this is an excellent book that anyone who has an interest in climbing will enjoy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Linda on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have read every book by Ed Viesturs, so I was very excited to receive my ARC of this title a few months back.

Anything by Ed Viesturs, I dive into and can't put down. I first read No Shortcuts To The Top and was absolutely blown away. I have had this desire to do high altitude climbing and his books have encouraged me and have given me such knowledge and information to pursue my dreams.

As was to be expected, his history of the mountain was exceptional and there was ample background given to his career, his family, and his previous books. I found myself reading and thinking, "Oh yeah, I remember that!'. I felt like a true friend. As with any book related to climbing 8,000 meter peaks, my hands sweat! At a certain moment in the book, I feel like I'm right there with the climbers, like I know what it'd be like to be so high, without a net, without protection!

I admire his work and his dedication to high-altitude climbing. I admire his passion for, and the knowledge of climbing and his dedication to his family and the importance he places on it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Rudolph on December 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed a number of Ed Viester's books over the years. This one rehashes too many of his and other's old stories without providing sufficient excitement or enjoyment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerome Ryan on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
America's first mountaineer to climb all 14 8000m peaks and twelfth overall, all without oxygen, Viesturs describes the major events on Annapurna along with his own three attempts featuring his diary entries. You should buy this book first and foremost for Viesturs account of the first ascent of the East Ridge by Swiss Erhard Loretan and Norbert Joos in 1984, second for the miraculous survival of Simone Moro and tragic death of Anatoli Bookreev on Christmas Day 1997, third for his own three attempts and eventual success, and finally as a history of the main events in Annapurna's history including the first ascent by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal in 1950, the first ascent of the south face by Dougal Haston and Don Willans on a Chris Bonington British expedition in 1970, the first ascent of the northwest face by Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander in 1985, the first winter ascent by Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer in 1987, and the second ascent of the east ridge by J.-C. Lafaille and Alberto Inurrategi in 2002. There are 8 pages of colour photos and a 2-page b/w photo.

The book starts with Ed describing his attempt to climb Annapurna North Face in 2000 with Veikka Gustafsson, Neil Beidleman, and Michael Kennedy. After witnessing "the biggest avalanche any of us had ever seen", they decided to give up their attempt because "the risks are too great."

Ed then describes the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950 by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, chronicled by Herzog in Annapurna, the best-selling mountaineering book of all time. In 2000, Ed's co-author for this book, David Roberts, wrote True Summit, a book fairly critical of Herzog, stating that the 1950 team was ridden with dissension, acrimony and envy, and that the book was little more than a gilded fairy tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jim on December 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In the first Chapter Viesturs distinguishes between committment and obsession among those who climb the highest mountains in the world. In relation to his own Endeavor 8000 Project he tells us he was driven by the former. In reality it seems that the two words are really parallel sides of the same mirror. He then describes his second expedition to Annapura in 2000 in which he and his team turned back before the summit due to the hazards they sensed. The next few chapters relate the initial summitting in 1950 by Maurice Herzog who proclaimed his experience the begnning of "a new and splendid life" and teammate Louis Lachenal whose response contrasted to Herzog's, and sebsequent attempts by other than the pioneering French route. These include examinations of the Dutch Rib route, the East Ridge route and the South Face.

While Viestur's descriptions are detailed and engrossing, I found that the chief problem with this section of the book is the number of side stories he tells about the climbing experiences of each team's members. I repeatedly lost the thread of which side story I was reading and had to refer back to keep track of the expedition, the year and the mountain he was discussing.

The strongest chapters are those about the competition between Messner and Kukuczka in the competition to be the first to summit all fourteen 8000 meter peaks, the chapter characterizing Anatoli Boukreev, the controversy over his role in the 1996 Mt. Everest tragedy and Boukreev's subsequent death in an avalanche, and the final chapter of Viesturs' successful summitting of Annapurna in 2005 "closing the loop" on his Endeavor 8000 project. I also liked the section devoted Louretan and the background information on Reinhold Messner.
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