No Shortcuts to the Top

No Shortcuts to the Top, by Ed Viesturs ★★★
This book is an autobiography of the life of Ed Viesturs, mostly detailing the events that led to him becoming a Himalayan climber, as well as achieving the peaks of the World’s 14 8000 meter peaks. Such is an astonishing accomplishment, especially since he did each of those peaks without the use of additional bottled oxygen. Apparently, he is now off to other adventures. Ed started out as a veterinarian but worked summers during veterinarian school as a guide on Mt. Rainier. Eventually, he was invited to accompany a group to the Himalayas on the climb of Kangchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world. This eventually led to his quest for all 14 – 8000ers. Throughout, Ed details his family life, and philosophy of climbing, life, and the world in general. This is where an otherwise fascinating story turns the book into an autobiography that will soon be forgotten. Ed’s final justification for his endeavor is that he can now motivate people, and has been hired by sports teams and major corporations to get their employees to work harder at less pay in order to achieve their “Everest”. For me, it’s a rather shallow raison d’être. For Viesturs, god becomes some amorphous other, best described by the Buddhist leaning toward Animism. Here is a man who knows little about the daily grind, waking up the morning after morning, years on end to provide for family and community. He did motivate me in one way through this book. I will take off the next 18 years of my life, hiking, playing, and being my personal best, and then write a book about it. Please take this tongue-in-cheek. The bottom line take-home message of the book for me, is that 1) Ed is a really nice guy, 2) Ed really likes his family, and 3) Ed likes to be alone, away from family, as much as possible, proving to the world that nice guys can climb mountains and do hard things. Don’t get me wrong, few people in the world could have ever done what Ed has done, and I admire his penchant for caution, safety, and willingness to help others out of trouble. Perhaps Ed would best serve humankind by opening a Himalayan climbing school, to motivate and provide the skills for others to repeat what he has done.