This gripping and triumphant memoir follows a living legend of extreme mountaineering as he makes his assault on history, one 8,000-meter summit at a time. For 18 years, Ed Viesturs pursued climbing's holy grail: to stand atop the world's 14 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. But No Shortcuts to the Top is as much about the man who would become the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest. As Viesturs recounts the stories of his most harrowing climbs, he reveals a man torn between the flat, safe world he and his loved ones share and the majestic and deadly places where only he can go. A preternaturally cautious climber who once turned back 300 feet from the top of Everest but who would not shrink from a peak (Annapurna) known to claim the life of one climber for every two who reached its summit, Viesturs lives by an unyielding motto: "Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory." It is with this philosophy that he vividly describes fatal errors in judgment made by his fellow climbers, as well as a few of his own close calls and gallant rescues. And, for the first time, he details his own pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. No Shortcuts to the Top is more than the first full account of one of the staggering accomplishments of our time; it is a portrait of a brave and devoted family man and the beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.More
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Vicarious Immersion into this Rare World!
This book, unabridged, is the primer and introduction for one who might want to lose oneself in this genre of books. High altitude mountaineering is grand drama, with killing cold, and with oxygen starvation that hobbles the brain and causes the body to consume itself. This is where storms appear out of nowhere, and simple injuries can become a death sentence, because help often is unavailable. Fiction is unnecessary because up here the true stories are incredible.
Yes, Dr. Viesturs’ book uses the word “I” a lot: It’s an autobiography as well as an overview. Arguably the world’s best, the guy practices great safety discipline, and deals in facts. He also is a superb historian of the mountaineering culture, and he describes that community in a way that lets you decide whether or not to immerse further. I went for it. I listened to ALL the Viesturs books, plus several others. Exception: The superb *Himalyan Quest* book of full-page photographs. It puts things into perspective, and must be enjoyed in paper form.
Look, we can’t all climb these mountains, but we can read, and watch movies and videos. This book is the primer. It fascinates while it gives you a taste. Then, if you choose to immerse as I did, you can enjoy scores of hours of wonderful entertainment, as you climb the world’s highest mountains in your armchair.