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Summary

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 18 years, Ed Viesturs pursued climbing's holy grail: to stand atop the world's 14 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.

No Shortcuts to the Top 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 the beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.

©2006 Ed Viesturs and David Roberts (P)2006 Books on Tape

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Emma
  • newton abbot, devon, United Kingdom
  • 04-02-07

Are you an 8000 m mountain nerd?

Breathtaking achievement. If like me you are obsessed about anything to do with mountain climbing you will love this. If you're not a 'mountain nerd' you will probably find this too long and too dry. Alot about this book is repetative, after all its a collection of stories about climbing 8000 m climbs, in essence its the same story over and over. Not for everyone but i loved it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Insight into an elite world

This book lets you see into the elite world of extreme mountaineering and the challenges faced by its top people. Not just the challenges of reaching the peaks time after time but seeing and hearing their loved friends chewed up or killed, as well as considering their spouses and children. There is a new perspective on the Everest disaster which is worth hearing if you have read books about it. The only negative

was that the narrators tone and phrasing took a little while to get used to but stick with it as you adjust after the first chapters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Inspiring book

Great book, especially for a keen climber that want to do more mountain climbing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story, bad narrator

Really interesting and action filled. Narrators voice was annoying but once I got used to it, I was able to focus on the story.

Would recommend

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

outstanding

for the true HA enthusiast . gripping and honest account of a personal triumph. a must read

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

a great inspirational story (corny I know)

Very well narrated, the guy has a voice smooth as silk. the story is amazing and really puts you in the moment. Very informative of every aspect of climbing and mountaineering, Ed Viesturs has a great story to tell. Highly recommended.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

First class

Fantastic and inspirational audiobook. Thoroughly recommended reading regardless of whether you have or ever intend to go mountaineering.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Listen

Really enjoyed this book. Certainly one you have to listen to if you are interested in the 1996 disaster on Everest. Not because it covers what happened in detail, but because it gives you an insight in to just how small and unique the high altitude climbing scene truly was back then.

This story will leave get you motivated.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it

I couldnt stop listening, what a great account of endurance, and wonderfully narrated. Absolutely fascinating, I was hooked!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book, mediocre vocal performance

I was enchanted to follow Ed's quest for the high peaks.

What dampened the experience somewhat though is the fact that the reading does not resonate well with the tone of the story. Viestur's writing style is rather laid back, so the rather lofty reading performance (think something Shakespearean) sounds somewhat alien. The reader also regularly mispronounces mountain names, which I find frustrating.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anatoliy
  • 05-04-10

NO SHORTCUTS

I read allot of mountaineering books. Ed Viesturs story is one of my favorites. Not only has time proved him to be one of the world’s premier mountaineers, but the narrative this book shows that it is not by luck that he lives to tell the tale. Viesturs is proven to be a man of resolve, character, and discernment. I was apprehensive of reading this book because of many reviews that told of a boastful man who is full of himself. Nobody wants to read a 350 page work of hubris and self adulation. As I read this book and gained respect for the man, I realized that some have mistaken his realistic evaluation of situations as self congratulation. This is an error. Viesturs is an extra-ordinary (not ordinary) man. So when he recalls things that are just recollections of his reality, some may interpret this as a huge ego. However, it is his ability to make clear and unemotional judgments about situations that has gotten him not only up, but down the mountains he has climbed. This is unlike the self flagellation of some who profess humility, while clearly seething with pride at their own meekness. Viesturs makes no such claims.
Buy this book, learn from Ed Viesturs, enjoy.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Greg
  • 18-06-14

Vicarious Immersion into this Rare World!

Any additional comments?

This book, unabridged, is the primer and introduction for one who might want to lose oneself in this genre of books. High altitude mountaineering is grand drama, with killing cold, and with oxygen starvation that hobbles the brain and causes the body to consume itself. This is where storms appear out of nowhere, and simple injuries can become a death sentence, because help often is unavailable. Fiction is unnecessary because up here the true stories are incredible.

Yes, Dr. Viesturs’ book uses the word “I” a lot: It’s an autobiography as well as an overview. Arguably the world’s best, the guy practices great safety discipline, and deals in facts. He also is a superb historian of the mountaineering culture, and he describes that community in a way that lets you decide whether or not to immerse further. I went for it. I listened to ALL the Viesturs books, plus several others. Exception: The superb *Himalyan Quest* book of full-page photographs. It puts things into perspective, and must be enjoyed in paper form.

Look, we can’t all climb these mountains, but we can read, and watch movies and videos. This book is the primer. It fascinates while it gives you a taste. Then, if you choose to immerse as I did, you can enjoy scores of hours of wonderful entertainment, as you climb the world’s highest mountains in your armchair.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 31-07-12

Some good, some bad

Now, Ed has an amazing physical condition along with unique genes that allows him to climb without bottle oxygen. At the same time, he makes a series of good decisions that curtail several climbs when it didn't seem right. He lived to tell the tale and climb again next season. So why didn't I like the book?

Ed tells his story in which he is the only person that can sense good climbing conditions when all around him, make bad decisions in continuing to climb. He talks about his instincts, a lot. Perhaps it was the manner in which it was written that makes Ed look like he has a big ego. Perhaps better editing would have have softened some of these disagreeable moments. I would like to think that Ed is more humble in person then this books suggest. I would just liked something more definitive then instincts as a reason to perform an action. In the end, better editing would have forced him to be more precise as to his motives and reasons to act as he did on the mountains. Still, Ed is around to write his story when so many died along the way.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Cassi
  • 25-07-09

Big Ego conquers Big Mountains

I have read many climbing books, including nearly everything in print written about Everest '96. Although the tragic Everest season of '96 is just a portion of this book about Viesturs' 'Endeavor 8000' (or whatever goofy name he gave it), the book seems to be less a narrative of the climbs and more of self-praise book about the man.
I found it especially odd how Viesturs continually inserts direct quotes and snippets from other climbers that gush praise over his climbing prowess. A lot of "Here's what so-and-so had to say about my superior guiding skills and incredible preparation... yadda, yadda". I especially had to laugh when Viesturs comments about leaving his pregnant wife for one of his Himalayan adventures, promising to check on her frequently by sat-phone. As his focus shifts to climbing, and he indicates his wife's displeasure over lack of communication via sat-phone, he writes it off saying, "Some people might have found (her) to be unreasonable, but I knew I had to focus on the mountain...".
He's generous in offering critique and criticism of others - from climbers to sponsors to family & friends, to the point of being obnoxious. Anyone who dares to question his decision-making or his tactics, he immediately trashes. I found it very hard to listen to at points.
I also found the narration to add to the tone of condescension - I don't think Stephen Hoye was the best choice for this one, as he seemed to add a note of whine to mix.
Bottom line: other climbing authors - from Krakauer to Boukreev, to virtually anybody else, frankly - offer better and more humble and respectful accounts of man vs. mountain. This was a turn-off. Even though I once was a Viesturs admirer,
I am no longer.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 01-05-08

A Slice of Humble Pie

Only 5 minutes into this book I was convinced that Ed. V is the most arrogant author I've ever encountered. I continued with this book only because I was curious whether his comments could get any worse. The good news is they do not. The bad news is they also don't get any better, or more humble.

Frankly, I'm surprised this man has summitted anything - his ego is so big it must be difficult to drag along.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 24-06-07

Self-serving

My wife listened to this book with me for a while, but said she had to stop listening because she was bored with the author droning on about how great he is. I humored her and listened to the rest of it on my own. I have to admit that she's right. Mr. Visteurs does think more highly of himself than the average person and I too became disenchanted when he cites passage after passage of all the great things that other people wrote about him. I did enjoy the climbing stories, however, and he did accomplish something I would only dream of, so I guess he's entitled to a certain amount of self-congratulations. Overall, there are better mountain-climbing books out there and I would recommend skipping this one.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gann
  • 04-06-07

DON'T BOTHER

I give this audio 1 star because I don't have the option to give it 0 stars. If you want a good read, good write, and compelling narration of an Everest expedition, get Krakauer's "Into Thin Air." "No Shortcuts..." doesn't come close to any of these. The reader is a bore, perhaps it is the content. Speaking of which, someone should do a count of the number of times the author uses "I". This audio is not about Everest or any other mountain, it is about the author, how great he is, how smart his children are, and his business ventures. Who cares? If Lunesta or Nyquil doesn't work for you, try this audio. Otherwise, skip it.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Josh Oster
  • 07-08-18

Great story of super human achievement

Ed Viesturs weaves a great tale of becoming the first American to climb the 14 highest peaks in the world. His descriptions make you feel like you're there.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Martin
  • 22-07-18

Great guy with the right principles

The book goes by fast if you into mountains and outdoor sports. Story of a guy who in 18 years conquered all 8km peaks. Lifestory of being a proffessional mountaineer.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • melamama
  • 06-07-18

Exciting, motivating content mispronounced

This is the story I’ve been wanting to hear as I had always gotten little details of Ed’s pursuit of the 14 8000m peaks in the media and advertising. It’s the exciting details of the quest that vicariously puts climbers or non-climbers in the adventures. It motivated me to backpack around my neighborhood with 100+ pound pack and add in a mile jog in the evening or before work.
Unfortunately, the pronunciations of anything Himalayan is agonizing throughout the whole book. Mookaloo, Naangoo Purbwut, Annapwoorna, etc. If hearing Cho Oyo mispronounced unrecognizably along with others doesn’t take you out of the story and irritate you every dozen seconds you’ll love this book. If it does, get a paper copy.
Possibly the actor found how the locals pronounce things but 1. it differs from the normal usage in conversation and movies and 2. I doubt it because he shifted how he said the same mountain a few times.