Monday, September 13, 2010

No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks, by Ed Viesturs; page 78

Viesturs is closely associated with Mount Everest, both for his IMAX climb, and for his many seasons of guiding on the mountain. This book covers more than just his Everest experiences, and it is in the category of the 8,000ers club books, along with tomes by Messner, Kukuczka, and others. Viesturs' is not as directed as the title suggests, and serves additionally as a memoir to a life of climbing, much like Kukuczka's.

Ed Viesturs begins the book with his unlikely ascent of K2 with Mountain Madness founder Scott Fischer. They buy onto the permit of a Russian team along with Thor Kieser and end up climbing on similar schedules to Chantal Mauduit, Gary Ball, and Rob Hall. He reminds us of his safety record, and shows us how things get out of hand when climbers ignore the signs of danger high on the mountain with the recounting of the rescues of Mauduit and Ball and his and Fischer's sketchy ascent and descent of the mountain. Veisturs vows to never to step past his safety zone again. He also notes that by 1998, four of these fellow climbers would be dead.

Viesturs was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and as a child moved to Rockford, IL. He was particularly effected by Herzog's Annapurna at age 15, and decided that one day he, too, would join a Himalayan expedition. He went to University of Washington to be near the mountains, especially Ranier. Working hard both academically and financially while climbing any time he got a chance, he eventually landed a job as a Ranier Guide under Lou Whittaker. He continued the job while applying for and attending veterinary school, and then went on to be a vet, only to discover that it gave him no time for his passion for climbing. Things would have to post.

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