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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  9,017 ratings  ·  526 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
...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Petra-X
Although there is no official series of the Everest disaster of 1996 where 8 people died in a blizzard, This book, Krakauer's Into Thin Air, Boukreev's The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest, Kropp's Ultimate High: My Everest Odysseyand Clint Willis's Climb: Stories of Survival from Rock, Snow and Ice, plus a couple more I've delved into, all read like a series. All of them reference the same people and the events of that tragic climb on Everest. It's very odd reading about the same cast and cat ...more
Judd
Feb 23, 2012 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
Maria V. Snyder
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am an armchair adventurer - I love reading these stories about hardship, freezing cold temperatures, dangerous conditions and general misery while I'm wrapped up in a blanket, cozy warm and with a steaming cup of tea nearby (The Deadliest Catch was one of my favorite TV shows). I'm also so very impressed by the author's accomplishment to summit the world's 14 highest peaks - without supplemental oxygen!

This book is not just a blow by blow of his successes and failures on the mountains, but ab
...more
Becky
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
Vanessa
BookRiot 2018 Read Harder Challenge #6: A book about nature

I read the reviews, so I know there is a whole cult of people, myself included, who can't get enough of mountain climbing books ever since they read Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. Hey! Here's another one.

Actually, if you've read Krakauer's book, Ed Viesturs' name should be familiar to you. He was at Everest in 1996 making the IMAX film (called, surprisingly, Everest) with David Breashears, and participa
...more
Cory verner
Jun 27, 2012 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
...more
Lori
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I found reading about all the mountain expeditions interesting, I had a problem connecting with the author. I think he reminded the reader too many times about how great he was at making decisions, what an incredible athlete he was, how attractive he was to the ladies. . . He very well may be all of these things, and he has accomplished incredible feats, but I found his propensity to brag exhausting at times. I think a friend of mine who also enjoys mountaineering books warned me away from ...more
Dannie
Aug 14, 2011 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.
Amar Pai
May 28, 2015 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
Agnese
Aug 05, 2011 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
Zinta
Aug 12, 2008 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
Koeeoaddi
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5

Engaging book by an amazing climber. Interesting to read his even and respectful account of the 1996 disaster as well as his other mountain experiences. One half point deducted for when I briefly ran out of bottled oxygen at Camp 3, reading about the minutiae of his corporate sponsorships. Otherwise a riveting book.
NicholeReadsWithCats
If you enjoy true story adventure books you will like this book. You journey with Ed throughout his life but the main focus is on his challenge of climbing all 14 peaks that are over 8,000 meters.

He was on Everest during the infamous 1996 disaster, so he also recounts the events from his groups experience during that time.

There was more than one emotional moment; excitement, fear, sadness, awe, and joy are all present during this book. There's a nifty glossary in the back for those unfamiliar
...more
David Edall
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can't get enough of Ed!, 4.5 stars
Tarik Adnan
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ed Viesturs is probably the best American high altitude climbers in the history of Himalayan climbing. His climbing stories taught me so much about risk management and climbing safely! I think his advice is practical for not only climbing but also for any risk management situation in life.

But the quote that I will take with me as long as I climb is 'Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.'
Sai Vignesh Krishnamoorthy
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ed took me to places I’ll possibly never go in this lifetime. I read his book the way he traverses through the death zone. I just couldn’t stop.
David
Jan 05, 2011 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
...more
Randee
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One (of many) of my idiosyncrasies is that I enjoy reading about mountain climbing, especially Mt. Everest. Not because I would like to climb mountains, I won't even sleep outside in a tent set up in my backyard. I have often thought the thrill is the horror of it all. If someone put a gun to my head and demanded that I climb a mountain, my response would be "Pull the trigger."
My very favorite is Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air." "No Shortcuts" is less literary but filled with interesting informa
...more
Katherine Coble
Sep 03, 2014 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
...more
Beth666ann
Ed Viesturs is one of the few people in the world to have climbed all of the 8,000-meter-high mountains: there are fourteen total. This book surveys each of his climbs. He was on Everest in 1996 when the disaster Krakauer wrote about in Into Thin Air happened and provides an interesting perspective on that. He says he is viewed as a cautious, conservative climber--he believes it is equally important to get down the mountain as it is to get up--and attributes this in part to his connection to his ...more
Tiffany
Jul 26, 2008 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
Heather Fineisen
I collect mountaineering books and Ed Viesturs is pretty standard when it comes to reading about mountain climbing. This is an interesting entry in the subject from one of the world's top climbers. There is some interesting information from Viesturs' point of view and his climbing journals and it chronicles the evolution of a climber. Viesturs is a safety oriented guy so there aren't a lot of thrills and chills except from the ever present mother nature and the mountains. A good, solid entry in ...more
MaryBeth
Mar 16, 2008 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.
RCW
May 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
I've read other writings by Ed Viesturs and enjoyed his insight and experience. I was looking forward to reading No Shortcuts to the Top. But I stopped at page 23. This isn't a boy's locker room. Have some respect.
Lea Ann
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ed Viesturs may not be the most talented writer in the world, but his accomplishments more than make up for the lack of flowery language and stunning prose. Viesturs doesn't need stunning prose, he's stood atop the 14 most stunning vistas in the world.

No Shortcuts to the Top details Viesturs quest to climb the world's 14 highest peaks, all without the use of supplemental oxygen. In doing so, he took on no shortage of personal risk, and I'm not just talking about the possible loss of life or lim
...more
Misti
Ok - I liked this better than his other book I just finished: K2 Life and Death on the Word’s Most Dangerous Mountain. I shouldn’t have read them back to back, because there are a few places where he has the same stories, even exact sentences, so that was kind of weird, but the library had them both. And this one also has some weird sentence structures in it. What I loved about this one is that it looks at his whole 8000 career, plus how he got started in the first place, and gets into details a ...more
Tobias Mcevoy
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
While it’s true there are No shortcuts to the top, there are however Shortcuts to the Bottom, as a few stories in the book demonstrate, like the guy that rappelled down K2 off a ski pole stuck into the snow ... he took a shortcut all the way to the bottom. I admire Viesturs for his cautious approach to a dangerous activity. Most of the celebrated mountaineers are the ones who did bold or reckless climbs and “got away” with it (how on earth are Reinhold Messner and Mark Twight alive after all the ...more
Tricia
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Ed Viesturs' voice (or at least the voice that David Roberts helps him portray) kept me interested and invested throughout. His focus on needing to get down the mountain even if it costs him a summit attempt is refreshing in light of what I feel is often the tremendous hubris that bites a lot of high altitude climbers in the ass.
Ronja
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
An autobiography of the first American climber who have climbed all fourteen 8000ers. It is not just chronological enumeration of what happened when he was climbing up the mountains, but it is also thrilling story, which shows unrelenting strength and determination of human. It serves as motivation for reader to chase his own dreams and conquer his own ‘mountains’.
Allison Sesame
I really enjoyed this book. It shows that you can climb safely, work to minimize risk, and (with some luck and a lot of patience) still achieve your goals.
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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

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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
52 likes · 11 comments
“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” 96 likes
“Mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” 11 likes
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