I am not someone who you would think of as a mountain enthusiast – I am afraid of heights and have no desire to climb in air that is hard to breathe. With that said, I was intrigued when Ed Viesturs’ The Mountain: My Time on Everest came in the mail because Mount Everest is the holy grail for us non-mountain climbing folk.
Viesturs, who is a world-renowned climber and the only American to have climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, takes the reader through a mini history of the climbing of Mount Everest and his own 11 expeditions to Everest. His history includes the expeditions that failed to reach the summit before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit in 1953 and the disastrous 1996 expedition season that killed a number of climbers, many of them veterans.
Viesturs provides the reader a first-hand description of the beauty and power of Everest. The beauty is in the sheer size of the mountain and its hard edges and the power in the changes in weather and the avalanches that can sweep the mountain with little warning.
The book is a personal account of Viesturs’ various expeditions to not only Everest, but also to the other mountains he climbed. He does not fall into the trap of settling old scores with people he disagreed with on these expeditions. He may criticize the actions of a person, but he never names the person. I find that commendable because he is more interested in telling a story rather than grinding an axe.
My only problem with the book is that he assumes that each reader is knowledgeable on the history of not only Everest, but also climbing in general. Rather than giving a brief description of an event (not too detailed, but enough to give the reader an idea of what occurred), he refers the reader to another one of his books. I understand you do not want to go off on a bunch of tangents, but more context would help.
A great read for someone interested in reading about the triumphs and perils of climbing Mount Everest.
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