Ed Viesturs

The first North American to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000 meter peaks without oxygen

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On May 12, 2005, Ed Viesturs, 46, stepped into the sky, and into history, to become the first American to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks without oxygen. In a call from the Annapurna summit, Ed said that it's "one of the happiest days of my life, one of the hardest days of my life."

Annapurna is arguably the most dangerous 8,000-meter peak in the world. This was Ed's 14th and final 8,000-meter peak, making him the first American to complete every climb on this arduous list. The weather, the snow conditions and the gear were all peripherals that may have facilitated in their climb, but ultimately, Ed and his climbing partner Veikka Gustafsson had to put one foot in front of the other for 11 brutal hours to reach the summit, a feat three attempts and 16 years in the making.

Ed Viesturs is America's leading Himalayan mountaineer, having climbed many of the world's most challenging summits, including ascending Mount Everest five times. Viesturs, based in Seattle, is the only American, and one of a handful of people internationally, to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000 meter peaks without oxygen.

Dubbed "the ultimate climbing machine," Ed calls his quest "Endeavor 8000," which he began in 1989 with his successful ascent of the world's third highest peak, Kangchenjunga, located in remote eastern Nepal.

Viesturs has been a climber most of his adult life. Known for his technical skill and shrewd judgment, he became a recognized mountaineer when he won the 1992 American Alpine Club/Sowles Memorial Award. This award is "conferred from time to time on mountaineers for their unselfish devotion at personal risk to themselves, or at sacrifice of a major objective, in going to the assistance of fellow climbers imperiled in the mountains." It was given to him for his involvement in two separate rescues in 1992 on K-2, the second highest mountain in the world.

Viesturs became world renowned as America's best high-altitude climber as a result of David Breashears' seminal IMAX film, Everest, and the PBS NOVA film project, Into the Death Zone. During both film projects, in 1996 and 1997 respectively, Viesturs climbed Everest on cue. As the climbing leader of the 1996 Everest IMAX Filming Expedition, which entailed the first-ever filmed ascent to the summit of Everest with a large-format IMAX camera, Viesturs put his successful Everest summits count at five (three without supplemental oxygen) a figure still unmatched by any other non-Sherpa climber.

In 1999, Viesturs completed the ascent of Manaslu and Dhaulagiri. The expedition, which was sponsored by National Geographic, was featured as a part of the "Quest for Adventure" spring 2000 lecture series.

"Pushing the Limits" recounts the story of Viesturs' demanding expedition and shared secrets of climbing and surviving at high altitudes. The three-week ascent of Manaslu, which allowed acclimatization to high-altitude conditions, was followed promptly by a rapid ascent of Dhaulagiri, taking care of number 11 and 12 on Viesturs' hit list.

Adding to his long list of accomplishments, Viesturs appeared in the Sony Pictures film The Vertical Limit. Directed by Martin Campbell, the movie is about a fictional climb of K-2, and stars Bill Paxton, Chris O'Donnell, and Scott Glenn. Viesturs plays himself in the film, which was a major blockbuster for the summer 2000. In addition, he has been honored with the "Lowell Thomas Award" by the Explorers Club, a multidisciplinary, not for profit organization dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific research, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.

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Travels From: Seattle, WA

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