The Mountain: My Time on Everest
written by Ed Viesturs
published by Touchstone Hardcover/Simon & Schuster
Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publisher to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Did I enjoy this book: You know, I didn’t think I was going to (especially since my version of cold weather sporting involves Irish Coffee, a good book, and a fireplace), but I did rather enjoy it.
There were parts that read like a history book, and although I admire Viesturs’ depth of knowledge, I found myself wishing he would have added a bit of spice. He clarifies later in the book, saying that he doesn’t want to add any more “drama” to what he assumes readers consider a ridiculously dramatic activity. I suppose if I’d have brushed up on my knowledge of Mount Everest before reading The Mountain I might have had some inkling of the hype, but I wandered into this book with absolutely no knowledge base, and I fear it detracted from my experience. Typically when I read a book with such a narrow scope I find myself annoyed with the first few chapters because they go over the basic terminology and equipment, but in this case I wish Viesturs would have included it.
I found myself skipping over bits of the history to get to the “good parts” – Viesturs’ personal experiences on Everest. I’m in awe of Ed Viesturs, and I’m not quite sure if it’s because of his physical skill or his straightforward storytelling. He intimidates me without trying; he’s smart, strong, focused, and humble. I’d like to make him dinner (I’d also like to de-passive voice-ify his book, but I figure I ought to get on his good side first).
Would I recommend it: If you’re interested in mountaineering, history, or men who are in excellent shape, you’ll enjoy this book.
Will I read it again: Not so much, no. But it was still lovely.
About the book – from Goodreads: Veteran world-class climber and bestselling author Ed Viesturs—the only American to have climbed all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, and only the sixth man to do so without supplemental oxygen—trains his sights on Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, in richly detailed accounts of expeditions that are by turns personal, harrowing, deadly, and inspiring.The world’s most famous mountain, Everest remains for serious high-altitude climbers an ultimate goal. Ed Viesturs has gone on eleven expeditions to Everest, reaching the summit seven times. He’s spent more than two years of his life on the mountain. No climber today is better poised to survey Everest’s various ascents—both personal and historic. In The Mountain, Viesturs delivers just that: riveting you-are-there accounts of his own climbs as well as vivid narratives of some of the more famous and infamous climbs throughout the last century, when the honor of nations often hung in the balance, depending on which climbers summited first. In addition to his own experiences, Viesturs sheds light on the fate of Mallory and Irvine, whose 1924 disappearance just 800 feet from the top remains one of mountaineering’s greatest mysteries, and on the multiply tragic last days of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer in 1996, the stuff of which Into Thin Air was made.
Informed by the experience of one who has truly been there, The Mountain affords a rare glimpse into that place on earth where Heraclitus’s maxim—character is destiny—is proved time and again. Complete with gorgeous photos of Everest, many of which were taken by Viesturs himself, and shots taken on some of the legendary historic climbs, The Mountain is an immensely appealing book for active and armchair climber alike.