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The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna - the World's Deadliest Peak (Unabridged)
 
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The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna - the World's Deadliest Peak (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by David Roberts (Author), Ed Viesturs (Author), Fred Sanders (Narrator)
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 45 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 4 Oct 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005SG4SOK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Description

The best-selling author of No Shortcuts to the Top and K2 chronicles his three attempts to climb the world's tenth-highest and statistically deadliest peak, Annapurna in the Himalaya, while exploring the dramatic and tragic history of others who have made - or attempted - the ascent, and what these exploits teach us about facing life's greatest challenges.

As a high-school student in the flatlands of Rockford, Illinois, where the highest objects on the horizon were water towers, Ed Viesturs read and was captivated by the French climber Maurice Herzog's famous and grisly account of the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950. When he began his own campaign to climb the world's 14 highest peaks in the late 1980s, Viesturs looked forward with trepidation to undertaking Annapurna himself. Two failures to summit in 2000 and 2002 made Annapurna his nemesis. His successful 2005 ascent was the triumphant capstone of his climbing quest.

In The Will To Climb, Viesturs brings the extraordinary challenges of Annapurna to vivid life through edge-of-your-seat accounts of the greatest climbs in the mountain's history, and of his own failed attempts and eventual success. In the process, he ponders what Annapurna reveals about some of our most fundamental moral and spiritual questions - questions, he believes, that we need to answer to lead our lives well.

"Of all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which I climbed between 1989 and 2005," writes Viesturs, "the one that came the closest to defeating my best efforts was Annapurna." Although it was the first 8,000-meter peak to be climbed, Annapurna is not as well known as the world's highest mountain, Everest, or second highest, K2. But as Viesturs argues, Annapurna, while not technically the most difficult of the 8,000ers, is the most daunting because it has no route - no ridge or face on any side of the mountain - that is relatively free of what climbers call "objective danger": the...

©2011 David Roberts, Ed Viesturs; (P)2011 Random House

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
America's first mountaineer to climb all 14 8000m peaks and twelfth overall, all without oxygen, Viesturs describes the major events on Annapurna along with his own three attempts featuring his diary entries. You should buy this book first and foremost for Viesturs account of the first ascent of the East Ridge by Swiss Erhard Loretan and Norbert Joos in 1984, second for the miraculous survival of Simone Moro and tragic death of Anatoli Bookreev on Christmas Day 1997, third for his own three attempts and eventual success, and finally as a history of the main events in Annapurna's history including the first ascent by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal in 1950, the first ascent of the south face by Dougal Haston and Don Willans on a Chris Bonington British expedition in 1970, the first ascent of the northwest face by Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander in 1985, the first winter ascent by Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer in 1987, and the second ascent of the east ridge by J.-C. Lafaille and Alberto Inurrategi in 2002. There are 8 pages of colour photos and a 2-page b/w photo.

The book starts with Ed describing his attempt to climb Annapurna North Face in 2000 with Veikka Gustafsson, Neil Beidleman, and Michael Kennedy. After witnessing "the biggest avalanche any of us had ever seen", they decided to give up their attempt because "the risks are too great."

Ed then describes the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950 by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, chronicled by Herzog in Annapurna, the best-selling mountaineering book of all time. In 2000, Ed's co-author for this book, David Roberts, wrote True Summit, a book fairly critical of Herzog, stating that the 1950 team was ridden with dissension, acrimony and envy, and that the book was little more than a gilded fairy tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 24 Nov 2013
By Ray
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As with all of Ed's books he makes you feel like your there with him. Essential reading for any mountaineer!!
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This soup needed more salt 1 Jan 2012
By Erik Hemmingsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I rank this book lower than both "No Shortcuts" and "K2" by Ed Viesturs, mainly because there is too much repetition with stories already covered in the previous books, and the somewhat unexiting, wandering writing.

Ed Viesturs is a person I really admire for his generous personality and outstanding sensibility, but he is no great writer. In this book I actually thought the writing was poorer than in both Shortcuts and K2, and the research felt more hurried. He makes up for his limitations, however, by wisely choosing to focus on Annapurna, and the abundance of drama associated with climbing that deadly mountain. I particularly enjoyed reading about the 1984 traverse by Loretan and Joos.

If you want more information about Annapurna, go ahead and buy the book, but if you are looking for a mountaineering book in general, you should consider buying Ed's previous books "No Shortcuts" or "K2", "Above the Clouds" by Anatoli Boukreev, or "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book but Wanders At Times 17 Oct 2011
By A. Antonio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I've read both of Ed's previous books. Both were well written and kept you engaged. I was looking forward to reading his book on Annapurna. I expected it to be a lot like his book on K2 which was big best book to date.

While Obsession is a great book it falls a little short at times. You may find yourself reading and wondering where he is going. At times he branches off on different subjects that seem to have little to do with chapter being covered. Often these subjects are interesting but I think most of them may have benefited from being moved into another chapter.

What this book does well is it allows you to envision the elation and turmoil that comes from climbing these mountains. It also allows you to envision the almost alien landscape that is being traversed. In the end you almost feel like you went to the mountains yourself.

Overall this is an excellent book that anyone who has an interest in climbing will enjoy.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another amazing adventure... 4 Oct 2011
By Linda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read every book by Ed Viesturs, so I was very excited to receive my ARC of this title a few months back.

Anything by Ed Viesturs, I dive into and can't put down. I first read No Shortcuts To The Top and was absolutely blown away. I have had this desire to do high altitude climbing and his books have encouraged me and have given me such knowledge and information to pursue my dreams.

As was to be expected, his history of the mountain was exceptional and there was ample background given to his career, his family, and his previous books. I found myself reading and thinking, "Oh yeah, I remember that!'. I felt like a true friend. As with any book related to climbing 8,000 meter peaks, my hands sweat! At a certain moment in the book, I feel like I'm right there with the climbers, like I know what it'd be like to be so high, without a net, without protection!

I admire his work and his dedication to high-altitude climbing. I admire his passion for, and the knowledge of climbing and his dedication to his family and the importance he places on it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not that exciting 8 Dec 2011
By Johannes Rudolph - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed a number of Ed Viester's books over the years. This one rehashes too many of his and other's old stories without providing sufficient excitement or enjoyment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great history of the Annapurna climbing, especially first ascent of the East Ridge 3 Jan 2012
By Jerome Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
America's first mountaineer to climb all 14 8000m peaks and twelfth overall, all without oxygen, Viesturs describes the major events on Annapurna along with his own three attempts featuring his diary entries. You should buy this book first and foremost for Viesturs account of the first ascent of the East Ridge by Swiss Erhard Loretan and Norbert Joos in 1984, second for the miraculous survival of Simone Moro and tragic death of Anatoli Bookreev on Christmas Day 1997, third for his own three attempts and eventual success, and finally as a history of the main events in Annapurna's history including the first ascent by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal in 1950, the first ascent of the south face by Dougal Haston and Don Willans on a Chris Bonington British expedition in 1970, the first ascent of the northwest face by Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander in 1985, the first winter ascent by Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer in 1987, and the second ascent of the east ridge by J.-C. Lafaille and Alberto Inurrategi in 2002. There are 8 pages of colour photos and a 2-page b/w photo.

The book starts with Ed describing his attempt to climb Annapurna North Face in 2000 with Veikka Gustafsson, Neil Beidleman, and Michael Kennedy. After witnessing "the biggest avalanche any of us had ever seen", they decided to give up their attempt because "the risks are too great."

Ed then describes the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950 by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, chronicled by Herzog in Annapurna, the best-selling mountaineering book of all time. In 2000, Ed's co-author for this book, David Roberts, wrote True Summit, a book fairly critical of Herzog, stating that the 1950 team was ridden with dissension, acrimony and envy, and that the book was little more than a gilded fairy tale. Ed disagrees with David: "For me, Annapurna is still an amazing book, essentially a true story, and all six of the leading climbers' ability to pull together to save one another's lives far outweighs the kinds of squabbles and disagreements David dug up." After searching for a route on Dhaulagiri, the French team switched their energies to Annapurna. Even though the maps of the day were wrong, the team managed to find a way to the Annapurna North Face, and in just a few days were ready to tackle the summit. Herzog was "indulging in the kind of ecstasy" and stayed on the summit while Lachenal wanted to go down. "As much as I admire Herzog and empathize with his rapture, I have to concede that Lachenal was using better judgment." He briefly describes the horror filled descent and escape from the clutches of death,

The authors then describe the first ascent in 1970 of the enormous Annapurna South Face rising "in one unbroken, gargantuan sweep more than 10,000 feet from the glacier at its base to the summit". Dougal Haston and Don Willans, "two brilliant climbers with huge egos, blazing ambition, and sharp tempers", reached the summit. The British Expedition was led by Chris Bonington who "despite his conservative, military background ... has always been a firm proponent of the tell-it-like-it-is school of adventure journalism." The lead climbers were supported by five "good soldiers", including Tom Frost who provides some perspective on the expedition. "For me, the day-to-day details, disputes and all, painted a complete and accurate picture of expedition life ... Despite the dissension within the team ... the ascent of the south face of Annapurna ranks today as one of the geatest deads in Himalayan history."

My favourite chapter is when Ed Viesturs tells the next story of the 1984 ascent of the East Ridge by Erhard Loretan and Norbert Joos. After a brief review of the 1978 ascent by an all-women's expedition led by Arlene Blum, Ed uses Loretan's book Les 8000 Rugissants to tell the story. The two Swiss climbers left Base Camp on October 21 and climbed to Camp II, and the next day to Camp IV at 7500m, a snow cave above Roc Noir. They set out on October 23 at 4:30, reached the Col below the East Summit at 8:30 and reached the East Summit at 14:00, descending in an hour to the col below the central summit at 8020m where they decided to bivouac in a snow cave. In a call to base camp they announced their intention of "descending by the north face after having reached the principal summit." Rather than what was believed to be a desperate last resort, Loretan and Joos had pre-planned to do the traverse of Annapurna. On October 24 they climbed the Central Summit and then had to rappel down a 100m rock cliff that blocked any idea of retreat along the East Ridge. They reached the main summit at 13:30. "We fell into each other's arms. A great happiness spread through me. ... The statistician in me told me that we had succeeded today on a new route on Glacier Dome (Tarke Kang), the third ascent of the Roc Noir (Khangsar Kang), and the first of the east ridge of Annapurna with its three summits (east, middle, and main) ... to celebrate ... it would be necessary to arrive on the north-side base camp alive, and that, as the one-armed say, is another pair of sleeves." After only 10 minutes on the summit, they started their descent of the north face which neither climber had seen before and bivouacked again at around 6800m. On October 25 the men spotted the top end of a fixed rope just 100m below them, but below an overhanging wall. "The descent of those 300 feet would turn out to be the most desperate passage of the whole traverse." After reaching the fixed rope, the two climbers continued their descent and had to bivouac again before stepping off the glacier at 13:00 on October 26. Loretan: "The doors of hell had just closed behind us, enclosing inside them our fears, our doubts and our anguish." Viesturs: "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the 1984 traverse of Annapurna was one of the greatest feats in Himalayan history."

In the next chapter, Ed detours to look at competition in mountaineering, specifically between Loretan and Benoit Chamoux to be the third person to climb all 14 8000ers. In September 1995 Both Loretan and Chamoux were on the south side of Kangchenjunga. Loretan arrived a little earlier and was more acclimitized and stronger than Chamoux. Loretan: "I understood that Benoit Chamoux was absolutely determined to beat me to the top." Both climbers left Camp IV (7800m) on October 5 with Loretan's team breaking trail, and Chamoux lagging behind. Loretan reached the summit at 14:35 and passed Chamoux still heading up as he climbed down. Chamoux was never seen again.

J.C. Lafaille and his mentor Pierre Beghin's attempted the south face of Annapurna in 1992, where Beghin fell to his death. "The ordeal he endured during the next several days would eventually become one of the most amazing self-rescues in mountaineering history." After attempts in 1995 and 1998, J.C. teamed up with Ed Viesturs and Veikka Gustafsson to try the East Ridge in 2002. "In Jean-Christophe Lafaille, I would discover one of the best partners of my mountaineering career." Alberto Inurrategi joined the climbing team. "In May a pattern began to form, with J.-C. doing most of the leading on our route. In part that was because he was so fast and so technically gifted." As J.-C. and Alberto pushed on the East Ridge, Ed "started getting the heebie-jeebies ... Deep snow on the face - not good. ... [Veikka and Ed] both agonized but finally after hours of silence knew we would go down." J.-C. and Alberto completed the East Ridge and reached the summit of Annapurna on May 16. J-C.: "There, at an altitude of 8,091 meters, a deep cry of joy, of liberation, came from the bottom of my lungs ... We held each other in our arms. I started crying, my emotions were so strong. Alberto clasped [Felix's] ice ax to his heart." They returned along the east ridge to safety, with J.-C.'s obsesssion with Annapurna finished, but with Ed still needing to climb Annapurna for his quest to climb all 14 8000ers.

Ed then describes the competition between Reinhold Messner and Jerzy Kukuczka to become the first person to climb all 14 8000m mountains. Messner and Hans Kammerlander climbed a new route with "delicate friction moves on rock slabs interspersed with steep snowfields" up the northwest face of Annapurna in 1985. Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer climbed the north face, reaching the summit in winter on February 23, 1987. Kukuczka: "it is impossible for a moment to get away from that bitter, penetrating frost, that takes away one's will and hope. ... We climbed on ice so hard that even the tips of our crampons could hardly penetrate it."

After briefly commenting on Anatoli Bookreev and his involvement in the 1996 Everest tragedy, Ed takes excerpts from Simone Moro's book Comet on Annapurna to describe Simone, Anatoli, and Dimitri Sobolev's attempt in December 1997 of "a line attacking the fiercely glaciated southwest flank of Annapurna, well to the left of all the south-face routes." After making slow progress in the terrible conditions, sinking in snow up to their waists, they went down the valley for some R&R before heading back up the mountain. Moro: "Above my head there was a terrifying, gigantic cornice of snow and ice stretching out like an ocean wave. Death was hanging right over our heads ... A fraction of a second later, a deafening roar announced the end of that gigantic cornice, and with it our lives. 'Anatoliiiiii ...' That desperate cry was all I could manage before the explosion of ice and rock started pouring down on me. ... After that there followed an interminable phase of bouncing, sliding, spinning around and round." It was 12:36 on Christmas Day, December 25, 1997. Miraculously Moro survived. Simone shouted to Anatoli and Demitri, but there was no answer. Simone himself was in a desperate situation and, with shades of J.-C. Lafaille, had to throw caution to the wind and descend off the mountain by himself.

Ed closes the book with his successful ascent of Annapurna with Veikka Gustafsson on May 12, 2005, completing his Endeavor 8000 project and becoming the 12 person to climb all 14 8000m peaks. They first acclimitized on Cho Oyu to reduce their time spent on Annapurna to an absolute minimum. Ed had to forego his summit attempt to help Jimmy Chin, sick with pulmonary edema, descend from their high camp (7070m), while Veikka reached the summit solo. They then turned their sights on the 1950 French route on the north face, "the least of all evils." With help from Silvio Mondinelli's Italian Expedition in using their fixed ropes, "It would mean that we could climb alpine style, having to traverse that dangerous face only once on the ascent." After waiting for the weather to clear, they left base camp on May 8 and climbed to Camp II. The next day, "we had to dash up and across what I called the Gauntlet, that frightfully exposed face down which in 2000 we'd seen the avalanches pour" to Camp III (6800m). "I was pretty wired - the culmination of an eighteen-year quest might come the next day." After waiting out May 10 and 11 due to high winds, the left for the summit early on May 12. "The scale of this upper north face was truly monstrous." "It was 2:00 P.M. Veikka and I hugged each other as tightly as we could, feeling clumsy with cold. My mind was racing. Oh my God! It's not just my fourteenth, it's Annapurna. ... We spent almost an hour on top. I wanted to savor every sweet moment of this."
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