No Shortcuts to the Top

  • by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts
  • Narrated by Stephen Hoye
  • 12 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Big Ego conquers Big Mountains

I have read many climbing books, including nearly everything in print written about Everest '96. Although the tragic Everest season of '96 is just a portion of this book about Viesturs' 'Endeavor 8000' (or whatever goofy name he gave it), the book seems to be less a narrative of the climbs and more of self-praise book about the man.
I found it especially odd how Viesturs continually inserts direct quotes and snippets from other climbers that gush praise over his climbing prowess. A lot of "Here's what so-and-so had to say about my superior guiding skills and incredible preparation... yadda, yadda". I especially had to laugh when Viesturs comments about leaving his pregnant wife for one of his Himalayan adventures, promising to check on her frequently by sat-phone. As his focus shifts to climbing, and he indicates his wife's displeasure over lack of communication via sat-phone, he writes it off saying, "Some people might have found (her) to be unreasonable, but I knew I had to focus on the mountain...".
He's generous in offering critique and criticism of others - from climbers to sponsors to family & friends, to the point of being obnoxious. Anyone who dares to question his decision-making or his tactics, he immediately trashes. I found it very hard to listen to at points.
I also found the narration to add to the tone of condescension - I don't think Stephen Hoye was the best choice for this one, as he seemed to add a note of whine to mix.
Bottom line: other climbing authors - from Krakauer to Boukreev, to virtually anybody else, frankly - offer better and more humble and respectful accounts of man vs. mountain. This was a turn-off. Even though I once was a Viesturs admirer,
I am no longer.

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- Cassi


I read allot of mountaineering books. Ed Viesturs story is one of my favorites. Not only has time proved him to be one of the world’s premier mountaineers, but the narrative this book shows that it is not by luck that he lives to tell the tale. Viesturs is proven to be a man of resolve, character, and discernment. I was apprehensive of reading this book because of many reviews that told of a boastful man who is full of himself. Nobody wants to read a 350 page work of hubris and self adulation. As I read this book and gained respect for the man, I realized that some have mistaken his realistic evaluation of situations as self congratulation. This is an error. Viesturs is an extra-ordinary (not ordinary) man. So when he recalls things that are just recollections of his reality, some may interpret this as a huge ego. However, it is his ability to make clear and unemotional judgments about situations that has gotten him not only up, but down the mountains he has climbed. This is unlike the self flagellation of some who profess humility, while clearly seething with pride at their own meekness. Viesturs makes no such claims.
Buy this book, learn from Ed Viesturs, enjoy.
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- Anatoliy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-27-2006
  • Publisher: Books on Tape