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No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  4,287 ratings  ·  310 reviews
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 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
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonKon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
Tales of Adventure
33rd out of 278 books — 315 voters
Kilimanjaro and Beyond by Barry FinlayInto Thin Air by Jon KrakauerAnnapurna by Maurice HerzogNo Shortcuts to the Top by Ed ViestursK2 by Ed Viesturs
Climbing and Mountaineering
4th out of 104 books — 53 voters

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I got the opportunity to climb with Ed Viesturs on Rainier in July 2010. It was by accident and only for half an hour. I didn't know who he was at the time, but as he welcomed me onto his rope halfway up Cathedral Gap, I was struck by his charisma and positivity as I struggled with the thin air and the fat kid spilling his last two meals on the rocks behind me. As we climbed, he continually called out encouragements to the middle-aged man just behind on the rope. I didn't know who he was, but I ...more
While I absolutely respect Ed Viesturs not just for his accomplishments in mountaineering but also for his efforts to maximize safety, to rescue stranded climbers, tohelp scientists understand HACE and HAPE, and for his many MANY donations to wonderful charities... this book was just sort of ho-hum. His compartmentalization on mountains, while necessary, does not necessarily make for great narration in a story. Not that I want to capitalize on the heartache and terror he has seen, but it all fel ...more
The life of a mountaineer and his pursuit of the fourteen 8000ers. A very engaging book that succeeds in depicting the passion, determination, and emotional waves that animate Viesturs and lead him repeatedly to the top of the world and from there with the same intensity back home. The last chapter is an unnecessary reiteration of the meaning of mountaineering, in which the author feels the need to explain - maybe first of all to himself - the significance of a life spent in the accomplishment o ...more
I thought this book was an excellent read. Ed's triumph of the world's 14 highest mountains is extraordinary and it was fascinating to read his detailed account of each ascent. The only drawback for me was the tone in which the book is written. Often times, Ed comes off as self righteous and pompous, but I'm not sure if that's his actual voice coming across or that of the co-author. Despite the arrogance, this book is a definite "read" for those who enjoy outdoor adventures.
Ed Viesturs was the 6th person ever to reach all fourteen 8,000 foot peaks without supplemental oxygen. He tells his journey personally, explaining his ambition, the decisions he made, and the struggles he dealt with along the way.

I was impressed by many of the decisions he made when the goal was so close, but simply not worth the risk (i.e. turning around when the Everest is 300 feet away!). I appreciated the way he followed his instincts. He made me wish I had a dream as ambitious as his, alth
Natalie Innes
A friend lent this book to me after I had April. I haven't quite been able to make myself pick it up for some reason, but once I did, I read it in about 2 days. It was fascinating to me, not because I'm interested in or knowledgeable about mountaineering, but on the contrary, because I knew nothing about it.

Ed Viesturs is the first American to summit all 14 of the world's highest peaks. This is a detailed account of climbing each peak, but it's also a peek (do you see what I did th
Fast-paced account of the mountaineering exploits of the author, particularly his feat of reaching the summits of all 14 of the world's mountains exceeding 8,000 meters in height. Describes his relatively conservative approach to managing the risks, which led him to turn back just short of several summits due to bad weather, avalanche-risk conditions of the snow, etc. on several occasions. Annapurna in particular thwarted him several times before he finally got to the summit.

good to get his take
As many others have written, this is a thrilling recounting of many adventures, and yes, Viesturs does somehow manage to come off as a bit arrogant even while you believe that he is a good and trustworthy fellow. Maybe you just have to have a bit of an ego in order to take on such great challenges and succeed. One more substantial critique is that the chronology of the book gets confusing--he'll jump around, start talking about one expedition, then return to that expedition chapters later, by wh ...more
Erik Johnson
May 27, 2007 Erik Johnson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: father's day gift, boy's books, thrill seekers, climbers
What distinguishes Ed Viesturs from the lot of "Joe and I climbed a mountain" first-person narratives that are out there is not so much the scope of his achievement as the fact that he has a new climbing (and life) philosophy.

The conventional school of thought about mountain climbing, as of lately, fueled by a recent spurt of accidents and by writers like David Roberts who've experienced its dangers and triumphs firsthand, is that on the whole, it's not worth the risk. It's a selfish and self-i
I was handed this book by a colleague, saying, "Hey, you're Latvian, too, aren't you?" Indeed, I am, and if perhaps my first spark of interest in this book came from that - Ed Viesturs' father, Elmars Viesturs, came to the U.S. very much by the same route as my own parents, refugees from the Soviet occupation of Latvia - then it soon enough veered far more to his achievements in mountainclimbing. I'd heard of Viesturs before. I'd seen a few film clips of his remarkable feat in summiting the worl ...more
Cory verner
It's impossible not to respect Ed Viesturs accomplishments. That does not mean you need to love his writing. I found the book interesting, primarily because I am passionate about climbing mountains myself. There is a lot of back story here that, although interesting and possibly even necessary for a book like this, is a bit tiresome. I would have preferred to have had the climbs described in more detail. I'm not sure that would have pleased other, though. You can't win with a book like this.

I wi
This book was pretty inspirational. I totally want to go out there and start climbing really big mountains too! Maybe not Everest, but Rainier? Yes! This book is super exciting at first, but then toward the end, it gets a little tiring to read. Wow! I can't believe it...another passage about yet another summit attempt of a mountain you've already climbed five times? Anyway, the guy is an awesome mountaineer and has done some amazing things, but unless you're a mountain nerd like me, you might wa ...more
Katherine Coble
At this point I'm prepared to say "if you've read one Ed Viesturs book, you've read them all." Because, honestly, you more or less HAVE.

I started with _K2_, simply because I'd watched the documentary _The Summit_ and this was the book available from the library. I enjoyed it, having gone into it knowing zip about alpinists, 8000-meter peaks and all the rest. That book--much like Viesturs' _The Mountain: My Time on Everest_ interleaves accounts of his climbs with the tales of historic adventures
Another winner. I liked that he described some of the logistics of climbing in this one (gear, types of illness, etc.). His description of his own experience during the 1996 disaster on Everest, when he waited helplessly as two of his closest friends perished in the snow, was gut-wrenching. However, I did have a twinge on Annapurna, thinking of how his wife felt when he didn't call for so long. I have tremendous respect for his drive as well as his conservative approach to climbing, but really, ...more
An honest look at world class mountain climbing. He talks a lot of technical talk and a lot about his failures. The amount of effort it takes does not make me want to climb an 8,000 meter mountain, but I did gain an appreciation for what he does.
I really liked reading this book because I find mountaineering to be so interesting and I'm definitely, as Ed calls it, an armchair mountaineer. I like to read about all these different peaks and Ed's ascents while not actually doing any dangerous climbing myself.

The book is well-written and really brings us into his world and shows us who he is, how he feels and why he does what he does.

However, throughout the book, I couldn't help but get the sense that Ed is quite the arrogant egomaniac. Wh
David Kessler
EV is a special guy who spent 20 years pursuing one goal: safely climb all the 14 of the 8000m plus peaks without oxygen from a tank; he carried not supplemental oxygen. And he is the only American who has done so. But not the first person to do so; Reinhold Messner did that. I once met him and the first question I asked him over breakfast was, " What do you consider the biggest danger in your sport". He did not hesitate, " Avalances". EV is in a new phase of his life , spending it with his wife ...more
Ed spoke at a company conference and covered a lot of the main philosophy of the book - "mountain climbing isn't about making the summit, its about being able to make it back down." But he was an interesting speaker and so I wanted to give the book a go. However, to be fair, I stopped at Chapter 4. I didn't have the time to finish and this didn't draw me to read into the late hours like fiction usually does. After 3 months of on and off reading, thought it best to donate to the used book store ...more
Thinking of a friend, I picked this book up at the Statesman Journal book sale. It sat on my shelf for a while. I had never heard of Ed Veisturs, so his stardom on Everest and the 13 other highest peaks was new to me. Halfway through I realize he was part of the group that filed "Everest" for Imax theatrer, a movie I saw -- with all its wonder and glory -- in an Omni Theater.

The book is fascinating, although it doesn't have the narrative, gripping plot line that I was somewhat expecting. Viesur
Just finished reading No Shortcuts to the Top, by Ed Viesturs with David Roberts. Ed Viesturs is a celebrity on par with the greatest athletes in the world, though I suspect most people have never heard of him. I hadn't heard of him before the company I work for began sponsoring him. Wanting to find out more, I borrowed this book from my boss. In No Shortcuts to the Top, I learned much about mountain climbing-- an activity which one could say Ed Viesturs is the reigning American Champion.

My favorite part of the book "“In the years since I first stood on top of Everest, the question I get asked more than any other is “Why? Why do you do it? Why is climbing so great?”
It’s the eternal question every mountaineer has grappled with, and to which few have given coherent replies. I have a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.”
In my long answer, I try to be a little less flippant. Because, after all, it’s a reasonable question: the no
Jun 29, 2009 Adam rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mountaineers, Climbers, Weekend Warriors, Adventure buffs, Everest hopefuls
Recommended to Adam by: Nate
Following Ed Viesturs on his Expedition 8000 was strenuous to say the least. While he claims that this is just not another climbing book, recounting his ascents, I find that to be only partially true.

The book does follow him on his journey to conquer the world's 14 highest peaks which of course is quite a laudable feat! The first half of the book does prove to be rather enticing as Viesturs recounts a number of heroic rescues that he was involved in. In no way does he do so in order to toot his
After reading Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" several years ago, I've slowly been making my way through books that cover the 96 season at Everest. While not focused on Everest, this book does include Ed's perspective on that disasterous season. For that alone, I liked the book.

Viesturs covers his quest to climb all the world's 8,000+ meter peaks without using bottled oxygen. As the 6th man to ever accomplish this, and the first American, he certainly is a man apart. The stories of climbing are well w
Jackie Brady
As I've said about Ed Viesturs' other books, this one is so-so. What Viesturs and his companions do is awe-inspiring, and I almost want to start training to climb mountains . . . until I remember how much I hate being cold. While the feats are impressive, the writing is decidedly average. Somehow this is comforting, because I don't really need another reason to be jealous of the guy. If he were a world-class mountaineer AND a phenomenal writer that just wouldn't be fair. I got to meet him and li ...more
Just about the fastest 350 pages. It's a truly thrilling adventure memoir. I was tempted to skip the seemingly superfluous narratives/digressions, but in the end, I found his discussions on his personal life some of the most interesting. While not as addictive as his depictions of rescues and summitting, his side narratives had a weird way of revealing his insecurities and fears. Having such lofty goals has its consequences on one's personal life. How could you be a good father when you are gone ...more
No Shortcuts to the Top is the story of famed mountaineer Ed Viesturs' career climbing the world's highest mountains. Viesturs is only the sixth person to climb all fourteen of the world's 8000 meter mountains without supplemental oxygen. This book tells how he did it. It also offers insight into what it takes to accomplish a feat of this magnitude and live to tell about, with all his fingers and toes intact. No Shortcuts to the Top is a fascinating inside look at an inspirational achievement.

Great read. After finishing, I'm more convinced than ever that mountain climbers are a few fries short of a Happy Meal. But, should I ever get a personality transplant and decide that I would like to try mountain climbing, he is the guide I would want.

Ed's approach and philosophy are commendable (getting down is mandatory, summiting is optional), as is his determination to finish the task of climbing all the 8000+ meter peaks without bottled oxygen. Don't know many people who would be patient e
Jul 27, 2012 josh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mountaineers
not the first viesturs book i've read.

i think i enjoyed "the will to climb" a bit more since this history was so much more involved as it focused on annapurna, not the full journey of endeavor 8000.

as with all mountaineering books i've read - i just can't seem to put them down. they read like some of the better fiction books i enjoy, written to highlight personal struggles, inner dialogues, retrospection and in a style that aims to put you in the thick of things.

it was well written and gripping
This is a fascinating look at mountaineering by arguably the world's best, or at least America's best. There are some really amazing accounts of what happens on these 8000 meter peaks. Although it is completely not in my character to ever mountain climb, for some reason I am very intrigued by it and the history of it. I found especially interesting his discussion of natural instinct -- learning to follow your instincts, and the evolution of instinct. A couple of great quotes: "If your body is wi ...more
Another addition to my collection of books by high altitude climbers. And one of the best, I'd say. Ed Viesturs, an American who has climbed all 14 8,000ers without supplemental oxygen, had popped up numerous times already in the stories and films of other climbers, so I knew he is a very strong climber, and a very good-natured and nice man ("un-American", some say ...). I knew he had been on Mount Everest during the famous tragedy of 1996, and helped some of the surviving people on the mountain ...more
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Ed Viesturs is America's leading high altitude mountaineer, having climbed many of the world's most challenging summits, including ascending Mount Everest seven times. He recently completed a 16-year quest to climb all 14 of the world's highest mountains (above 8,000 meters) without the use of supplemental oxygen. In doing so, he became the first American and the 5th person in the world to accomp ...more
More about Ed Viesturs...
K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peak The Mountain: My Time on Everest Himalayan Quest: Ed Viesturs on the 8,000-Meter Giants No Boundaries: Spirit of Adventure

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“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” 36 likes
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