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.
©2006 Ed Viesturs and David Roberts; (P)2006 Books on Tape
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.
Only 5 minutes into this book I was convinced that Ed. V is the most arrogant author I've ever encountered. I continued with this book only because I was curious whether his comments could get any worse. The good news is they do not. The bad news is they also don't get any better, or more humble.
Frankly, I'm surprised this man has summitted anything - his ego is so big it must be difficult to drag along.
My wife listened to this book with me for a while, but said she had to stop listening because she was bored with the author droning on about how great he is. I humored her and listened to the rest of it on my own. I have to admit that she's right. Mr. Visteurs does think more highly of himself than the average person and I too became disenchanted when he cites passage after passage of all the great things that other people wrote about him. I did enjoy the climbing stories, however, and he did accomplish something I would only dream of, so I guess he's entitled to a certain amount of self-congratulations. Overall, there are better mountain-climbing books out there and I would recommend skipping this one.
I give this audio 1 star because I don't have the option to give it 0 stars. If you want a good read, good write, and compelling narration of an Everest expedition, get Krakauer's "Into Thin Air." "No Shortcuts..." doesn't come close to any of these. The reader is a bore, perhaps it is the content. Speaking of which, someone should do a count of the number of times the author uses "I". This audio is not about Everest or any other mountain, it is about the author, how great he is, how smart his children are, and his business ventures. Who cares? If Lunesta or Nyquil doesn't work for you, try this audio. Otherwise, skip it.
Now, Ed has an amazing physical condition along with unique genes that allows him to climb without bottle oxygen. At the same time, he makes a series of good decisions that curtail several climbs when it didn't seem right. He lived to tell the tale and climb again next season. So why didn't I like the book?
Ed tells his story in which he is the only person that can sense good climbing conditions when all around him, make bad decisions in continuing to climb. He talks about his instincts, a lot. Perhaps it was the manner in which it was written that makes Ed look like he has a big ego. Perhaps better editing would have have softened some of these disagreeable moments. I would like to think that Ed is more humble in person then this books suggest. I would just liked something more definitive then instincts as a reason to perform an action. In the end, better editing would have forced him to be more precise as to his motives and reasons to act as he did on the mountains. Still, Ed is around to write his story when so many died along the way.
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.
Before I read it I wondered how the author was going to tie together all of his adventures into an interesting story.
But he does it really well, mixing his life story well with the main topics of the book.
Viesturs gives good insights into the psychology of mountain climbers (himself included). I got a lot out of this given that I am not a climber myself.
Yes, but mainly to cover details about certain mountains.
Annapurna, Maurice Herzog.
It may have been a tad slow. But fair.
Nothing extreme, but I did appreciate the details about other mountaineer's current and historic.
With audio books like these I would like to hear the subject's own voice for narration if the delivery is decent.
No. The book itself is good, audiobook notsomuch.
Narrator pronounced mountain names and climbers names incorrectly.
A bunch of people have been writing about how arrogant Ed is, but he's a professional sportsman who has had to publicise his activities and get sponsorship, etc. I think it's pretty normal for such people to become hubristic. I'd like to read a Michael Jordan memoir when we don't get a sense that the man believes in himself.
So I think that's just par for the course and it's an interesting insight into the kind of self belief that these people have. He mentions so many friends who do similar sorts of climbing and they're all, well, dead.
I thought the narrator was excellent, he's got this really interesting voice, super dramatic but it works.
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