Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Ed Viesturs  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born: 1959 in Rockford, Illinois


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Illinois Connection

He was born in Rockford, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Viesturs is a professional mountaineer, design consultant, and motivational speaker. He is the design consultant for Mountain Hardwear, Timberland, and Outdoor Research.In May 2005, Viesturs became the first American to ascend all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks. He currently lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Himalayan Quest: Ed Viesturs on the 8,000-Meter Giants
ISBN: 0792241657

National Geographic. 2003

Now updated to include the triumphant culmination of a monumental quest—to stand on the summits of all fourteen of the world’s highest mountains—Himalayan Quest offers an unforgettable glimpse into the remarkable world of Ed Viesturs, America’s best-known high altitude climber, and the breathtaking landscape in which he works. It is an unparalleled showcase of both the heartbreaking tragedy and the ineffable joy Viesturs has experienced while striving at the limits of human endurance.

At the center of this extraordinary account of his mountaineering adventures are Viesturs’s own awe-inspiring photographs from the top of the world. This collection of images will show readers the deadly beauty and haunting menace of the Himalaya. A unique, inspiring, and spine-tingling glimpse into the rarified world of the extreme climber, Himalayan Quest will appeal not only to Viesturs’s significant fan base (fondly known as Edophiles or Edheads), but also to outdoor aficionados and armchair adventurers everywhere.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks
ISBN: 0767924711

Broadway Books. 2007

This gripping and triumphant memoir from the author of The Mountain

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 the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest. As Viesturs recounts the stories of his most harrowing climbs, he reveals a man torn between the flat, safe world he and his loved ones share and the majestic and deadly places where only he can go.

A preternaturally cautious climber who once turned back 300 feet from the top of Everest but who would not shrink from a peak (Annapurna) known to claim the life of one climber for every two who reached its summit, Viesturs lives by an unyielding motto, “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” It is with this philosophy that he vividly describes fatal errors in judgment made by his fellow climbers as well as a few of his own close calls and gallant rescues. And, for the first time, he details his own pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.

In addition to the raw excitement of Viesturs’s odyssey, No Shortcuts to the Top is leavened with many funny moments revealing the camaraderie between climbers. It is more than the first full account of one of the staggering accomplishments of our time

it is a portrait of a brave and devoted family man and his beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.

K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
ISBN: 0767932501

Crown Archetype. 2009

A thrilling chronicle of the tragedy-ridden history of climbing K2, the world's most difficult and unpredictable mountain, by the bestselling authors of No Shortcuts to the Top

At 28,251 feet, the world's second-tallest mountain, K2 thrusts skyward out of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan. Climbers regard it as the ultimate achievement in mountaineering, with good reason. Four times as deadly as Everest, K2 has claimed the lives of seventy-seven climbers since 1954. In August 2008 eleven climbers died in a single thirty-six-hour period on K2–the worst single-event tragedy in the mountain's history and the second-worst in the long chronicle of mountaineering in the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. Yet summiting K2 remains a cherished goal for climbers from all over the globe. Before he faced the challenge of K2 himself, Ed Viesturs, one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers, thought of it as "the holy grail of mountaineering."

In K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, Viesturs explores the remarkable history of the mountain and of those who have attempted to conquer it. At the same time he probes K2's most memorable sagas in an attempt to illustrate the lessons learned by confronting the fundamental questions raised by mountaineering–questions of risk, ambition, loyalty to one's teammates, self-sacrifice, and the price of glory. Viesturs knows the mountain firsthand. He and renowned alpinist Scott Fischer climbed it in 1992 and were nearly killed in an avalanche that sent them sliding to almost certain death. Fortunately, Ed managed to get into a self-arrest position with his ice ax and stop both his fall and Scott' s.

Focusing on seven of the mountain's most dramatic campaigns, from his own troubled ascent to the 2008 tragedy, Viesturs and Roberts crafts an edge-of-your-seat narrative that climbers and armchair travelers alike will find unforgettably compelling. With photographs from Viesturs's personal collection and from historical sources, this is the definitive account of the world's ultimate mountain, and of the lessons that can be gleaned from struggling toward its elusive summit.


Availability for Public Speaking

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