For eighteen years Viesturs pursued climbing's holy grail: to stand atop the world's fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. As he recounts his most harrowing climbs, he reveals a man torn between the safe world he and his loved ones share and the majestic and deadly places where only he can go. A 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 has an unyielding motto, "Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory." It is with this philosophy in mind 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.--From publisher description.
As with most (all?) of the mountaineering books I've read, this one is very exciting at times. It kept me wanting to read. Ed was climbing with Scott Fisher on K2 when they not only summitted (against Ed's better judgement), but they saved the lives of two other climbers. Ed was part of David Breashears IMAX crew when disaster hit Everest in 1996. Plus there are many other climbs that he was involved in to make it to the summit of all 14; of course, he didn't make them all on his first tries, either. I was quite interested to learn that before the mountaineering took over, Ed had originally become a veterinarian.