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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top class - but not typical, 31 Mar. 2009
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This review is from: No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks (Paperback)
In 2005 after 18 years of Himalayan expeditions Ed Viesturs became the first American to summit all 14 peaks higher than 8,000 metres, accomplishing what he termed `Endeavor 8000' (sic). As a boy he had been inspired to climb big mountains by Maurice Herzog's book on the first ascent of Annapurna - a mountain to become his `bogey' summit - his last to be climbed after two failures, yet after success on all others including 6 ascents of Everest. On its own the coverage of his Himalayan odyssey is worthy of a 5-star rating, but `No Shortcuts to the Top' has greater breadth and depth. It is Ed Viesturs' compelling autobiography, written with assistance from renowned author-mountaineer David Roberts - and it is the story of a remarkable man.

Ed Viesturs was determined to summit all 8,000ers without reliance on oxygen - and to do so safely! Observance of his own mantra "Getting to the top is optional ... Getting down is mandatory" is demonstrated by a willingness to retreat, and to the facts that he was never seriously injured, never needed to be rescued - and never lost a partner! In the mountains Ed Viesturs' approach to risk control is exemplary, and in his writing he avoids romanticising - so making him very special in terms of Himalayan climbing and mountaineering literature.

`No Shortcuts to the Top' embraces Ed Viesturs' childhood, education, vocation, guiding etc. and it describes his feelings and reactions with honest explanations of family relations, struggles, emotions etc. He does not openly compete with others but he is highly motivated and goal orientated - very competitive with himself. When writing about mountaineering Ed Viesturs avoids being judgemental but he refers to exploits by others (including persona of the 1996 Everest disasters) to support his own experiences, and he comments on a wide variety of issues and developments - rescues, satellite communications, publicity, filming etc. These matters are interesting and informative, and without doubt the `Endeavor 8000' achievements described are top-class and inspiring. In addition to readers recognizing his courage, composure and capabilities, for good measure Ed Viesturs comes across as a personable character, and he strikes a nice balance between understatement and embellishment - `No Shortcuts to the Top' is much more than a typical mountaineering book.
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