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No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks Hardcover – October 17, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
For nearly two decades Viesturs has been living his dream: to scale the world's 14 tallest peaks--the 8,000ers, as they're known, the 14 mountains taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). All of them are in Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet, and none is easy to conquer. Viesturs, who has stood atop Everest half a dozen times, is among the world's most accomplished climbers, and even he admits it's no picnic dragging yourself up to those heights. With coauthor Roberts, a veteran mountaineering author, Viesturs turns his quest to conquer the 8,000ers into a compelling story of dedication, desperation, danger, derring-do, and devotion (physical and spiritual). Fans of extreme-sport books, especially tales of high adventure, will want to add this one to their collections. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Ed Viesturs is an adventurer - and with one heck of an accomplishment. He is one of the few human who have summited (and returned - an important part of his mantra) all 14 of the Earth's 8,000 meter peaks.
This book is the Ed Story and weaves his life into the telling of his accomplishment. It is well written and easy to follow. The action - mountaineering's close calls, including Viesturs famous self-arrest on K-2, is gripping and presented tightly without over dramatizing the events. It does occasionally get repetitive - after all there are 14 mountains over about 20 attempts that make up the story. While mentioning all, Viesturs focuses on a few to highlight his career.
Career is an accurate description. Viestures gave everything to climb, starting with subsistence employment and basement housing to be able to afford his dream. As his fame grew, and the real chance to summit all of the 8,000ers developed, the author was able to piece together corporate sponsorships and motivational speaking opportunities in order to sustain himself - at a quite comfortable level in the end one is left to believe.
This isn't just a mountain tale book. The strength is Viesters describing his approach to risk and the often dangerous and fatal activity that has defined his life. His self-discipline and ability to make the right choices in trying situations is the real story here. Viesturs turned away several times just yards away from summits when the weather or terrain didn't feel right - a discipline too many of his colleagues ignore when "summit fever" overcomes many after weeks assaulting a mountain with the top in plain sight and a short (relative term to be sure) climb away. The author would have to go back, often multiple times and over a period of years, to tag those hold-out summits - a time consuming, costly, and frustrating endeavor but one borne of an approach that kept Ed Viesturs alive.
Not only does this book give the armchair mountaineer good insight into what is involved in all facets of a climb, it is an excellent example of a disciplined and consistent approach to significant undertakings.