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A thrilling chronicle of the tragedy-ridden history of climbing K2, the world's most difficult and unpredictable mountain, by the bestselling authors of No Shortcuts to the Top. At 28,251 feet, the world's second-tallest mountain, K2 thrusts skyward out of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan. Climbers regard it as the ultimate achievement in mountaineering, with good reason. Four times as deadly as Everest, K2 has claimed the lives of seventy-seven climbers since 1954. In August 2008 eleven climbers died in a single thirty-six-hour period on K2-the worst single-event tragedy in the mountain's history and the second-worst in the long chronicle of mountaineering in the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. Yet summiting K2 remains a cherished goal for climbers from all over the globe. Before he faced the challenge of K2 himself, Ed Viesturs, one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers, thought of it as "the holy grail of mountaineering."In K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, Viesturs explores the remarkable history of the mountain and of those who have attempted to conquer it. At the same time he probes K2's most memorable sagas in an attempt to illustrate the lessons learned by confronting the fundamental questions raised by mountaineering-questions of risk, ambition, loyalty to one's teammates, self-sacrifice, and the price of glory. Viesturs knows the mountain firsthand. He and renowned alpinist Scott Fischer climbed it in 1992 and were nearly killed in an avalanche that sent them sliding to almost certain death. Fortunately, Ed managed to get into a self-arrest position with his ice ax and stop both his fall and Scott's. Focusing on seven of the mountain's most dramatic campaigns, from his own troubled ascent to the 2008 tragedy, Viesturs and Roberts crafts an edge-of-your-seat narrative that climbers and armchair travelers alike will find unforgettably compelling. With photographs from Viesturs's personal collection and from historical sources, this is the definitive account of the world's ultimate mountain, and of the lessons that can be gleaned from struggling toward its elusive summit.
Veteran world-class climber and bestselling author Ed Viesturs--the only American to have climbed all fourteen of the world's 8,000-meter peaks, and only the sixth man to do so without supplemental oxygen--trains his sights on Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, in richly detailed accounts of expeditions that are by turns personal, harrowing, deadly, and inspiring.The world's most famous mountain, Everest remains for serious high-altitude climbers an ultimate goal. Ed Viesturs has gone on eleven expeditions to Everest, reaching the summit seven times. He's spent more than two years of his life on the mountain. No climber today is better poised to survey Everest's various ascents--both personal and historic. In The Mountain, Viesturs delivers just that: riveting you-are-there accounts of his own climbs as well as vivid narratives of some of the more famous and infamous climbs throughout the last century, when the honor of nations often hung in the balance, depending on which climbers summited first. In addition to his own experiences, Viesturs sheds light on the fate of Mallory and Irvine, whose 1924 disappearance just 800 feet from the top remains one of mountaineering's greatest mysteries, and on the multiply tragic last days of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer in 1996, the stuff of which Into Thin Air was made. Informed by the experience of one who has truly been there, The Mountain affords a rare glimpse into that place on earth where Heraclitus's maxim--character is destiny--is proved time and again. Complete with gorgeous photos of Everest, many of which were taken by Viesturs himself, and shots taken on some of the legendary historic climbs, The Mountain is an immensely appealing book for active and armchair climber alike.
This gripping and triumphant memoir from the author of The Mountain follows a living legend of extreme mountaineering as he makes his assault on history, one 8,000-meter summit at a time.For eighteen years Ed Viesturs pursued climbing's holy grail: to stand atop the world's fourteen 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. In addition to the raw excitement of Viesturs's odyssey, No Shortcuts to the Top is leavened with many funny moments revealing the camaraderie between climbers. It 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 his beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.
The bestselling author of No Shortcuts to the Top and K2 chronicles his three attempts to climb the world's tenth-highest and statistically deadliest peak, Annapurna in the Himalaya, while exploring the dramatic and tragic history of others who have made -- or attempted - the ascent, and what these exploits teach us about facing life's greatest challenges. As a high school student in the flatlands of Rockford, Illinois, where the highest objects on the horizon were water towers, Ed Viesturs read and was captivated by the French climber Maurice Herzog's famous and grisly account of the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950. When he began his own campaign to climb the world's 14 highest peaks in the late 1980s, Viesturs looked forward with trepidation to undertaking Annapurna himself. Two failures to summit in 2000 and 2002 made Annapurna his nemesis. His successful 2005 ascent was the triumphant capstone of his climbing quest. In The Will To Climb Viesturs brings the extraordinary challenges of Annapurna to vivid life through edge-of-your-seat accounts of the greatest climbs in the mountain's history, and of his own failed attempts and eventual success. In the process he ponders what Annapurna reveals about some of our most fundamental moral and spiritual questions--questions, he believe, that we need to answer to lead our lives well. "Of all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which I climbed between 1989 and 2005," writes Viesturs, "the one that came the closest to defeating my best efforts was Annapurna." Although it was the first 8,000-meter peak to be climbed, Annapurna is not as well known as the world's highest mountain, Everest, or second highest, K2. But as Viesturs argues, Annapurna, while not technically the most difficult of the 8,000ers, is the most daunting because it has no route--no ridge or face on any side of the mountain--that is relatively free of what climbers call "objective danger"--the threat of avalanches, above all, but also of collapsing seracs (huge ice blocks), falling rocks, and crevasses. Since its first ascent in 1950, Annapurna has been climbed by more than 130 people, but 53 have died trying. This high fatality rate makes Annapurna the most dangerous of the 8,000-meter peaks. Viesturs and co-author David Roberts chronicle Ed's three attempts to climb Annapurna, as well as the attempts of others, from the two French climbers who made the landmark first ascent of Annapurna on June 3, 1950, through the daring and tragic campaigns of such world-class mountaineers as Reinhold Messner and Anatoli Boukreev. Viesturs's accounts and analyses of these extraordinary adventures serve as a point of departure for his exploration of themes vividly illustrated by Annapurna expeditions, including obsession and commitment, fear and fulfillment, failure and triumph--issues that have been neglected in the otherwise very rich literature of mountaineering, and that can inform the lives and actions of everyone.From the Hardcover edition.
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