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

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  6,358 Ratings  ·  387 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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Petra Eggs
I am totally fed-up with some librarians who are categorising books by an author that have even a tenuous connection to each other into 'Series'. (view spoiler) ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Judd rated it really liked it
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
Amar Pai
May 28, 2015 Amar Pai rated it really liked it
Ed Viesturs is kind of a dweeb, but I have to admit he's a workhorse superman. One foot in front of the other, repeat, repeat, repeat. He said at the top of some summits you have to take 15 breaths for every step. Damn
Aug 05, 2011 Agnese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mountains
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
Aug 12, 2008 Zinta rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 27, 2012 Cory verner rated it liked it
Shelves: mountaineering
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
Jul 26, 2008 Tiffany rated it liked it
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
Mar 16, 2008 MaryBeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 14, 2011 Dannie rated it did not like it
The stories jumped all over the place, both in chronology and in length. And although the message is about getting down the mountain safely, the theme isn't interesting enough to play through the whole book. The author isn't arrogant, but he does appear to be self-centered, which seems to be pretty common for serious mountaineers or elite athletes.
Jan 05, 2011 David rated it really liked it
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
Erik Johnson
May 27, 2007 Erik Johnson rated it really liked it
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
Natalie Innes
Sep 26, 2013 Natalie Innes rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
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
Feb 17, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
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
Jun 17, 2013 Shriram rated it really liked it
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
Katherine Coble
Sep 03, 2014 Katherine Coble rated it liked it
Shelves: library-checkout
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
Feb 29, 2016 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: mountaineering
This isn't the first time I've read this book, but I've been on another tear with the mountaineering books lately and wanted to revisit this one. This is Ed Viesturs' story of how he came to be the first American to climb all 8,000m peaks, only the sixth person overall to do so without use of supplemental oxygen. Viesturs hammers home his climbing philosophy throughout the book: getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory. This approach cost him the summit more than once, but it al ...more
May 27, 2016 Colleen rated it it was ok
I'm torn. Ed Viesturs is a fascinating guy who has lived a fascinating life and has some fascinating stories to tell. If your basic New York City winter weather didn't make me absolutely miserable, and if I didn't get altitude sickness from a trip to Denver, he would be the guy I'd want to teach me to climb mountains.

But this book, as a book, isn't great. The chapter organization didn't make any sense to me, and it is filled with redundant or meaningless phrases... "In some sense" and the like.
Jan 22, 2016 Dan rated it it was amazing
Spectacular tale of America's premier Alpine mountaineer told with gritty honesty peppered with minute details and insights. I'll never stand atop an 8,000 meter peak in the Himalaya, but Viestur's vivid storytelling skills allowed me to look through his goggles for a few hours.

If you like adventure and stories of overcoming incredible odds, don't miss this one.
Somer Vedge
Sep 28, 2015 Somer Vedge rated it it was ok
While Ed Viestur's is as an incredibly accomplished mountaineer who deserves all the accolades for his climbs to the world's 14 highest peaks without supplemental oxygen, the fractured storyline, repeated redundancy and teenager like prose, in No Shortcuts to the Top left me wanting to fall into the deepest crevasse.
Mar 27, 2016 Sheri rated it really liked it
I love true life adventure books. This one is way beyond the scope of anything I have any desire or ability to try, but I enjoyed reading about Ed Viesturs' ambition to climb the world's highest mountains and his efforts over many years to make it happen.
Mar 07, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Rob Sabin
Apr 02, 2016 Rob Sabin rated it it was amazing
A great read of an amazing man and his climbing feats. I truly enjoyed his perspective on events and people that have made climbing and mountaineering what it is today.
Rob Neyer
Feb 22, 2017 Rob Neyer rated it liked it
Largely a blow-by-blow account of Viesturs' quest to climb those 14 peaks, and I have to think if you like reading about mountain-climbing, you'll like this (as I did). The narrative flags when Viesturs isn't actually on the mountain, and his nature doesn't seem particularly introspective. There is this passage: At that moment, I realized how truly isolated we were from the world, still much more prisoners than free men, in a space that had more to do with the cosmos than the earth...

Quite poeti
Jan 24, 2017 Monical rated it liked it
A good book about Ed Viesturs and his goal of climbing 14 8000 meter peaks. I enjoyed learning about his background, how he started climbing, how he managed his finances, the people he climbed with, and his climbing experiences. He was also present at the ill-fated 1996 season on Everest, when Hall and Scott Fischer along with several of their clients died, so his perspective on that story (also told in "Into Thin Air" and "The Climb" among others) was interesting. The book bogged down in places ...more
Feb 24, 2017 Jeannette rated it really liked it
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.
Alessandro Argenti
La storia dell'alpinista attraverso tutte le sue conquiste. Le vicende sono ben narrate anche se a mio giudizio a volte emerge un po' la sua presunzione da 'americano', il voler cioè essere al di sopra delle righe. Non di sicuro il miglior libro della sua categoria, ma comunque piacevole.
It was a really enjoyable book, but I felt the there was too much overlap in content with his other books.
Nov 18, 2016 M.D. rated it really liked it
Excellent mountaineering book by an author/climber and his co-author who always find a way to see the best in their fellow humans.
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Got to move on 3 35 Feb 12, 2013 12:50PM  
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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...

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“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” 63 likes
“Mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” 4 likes
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