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In the opening scene of Viesturs's memoir of his quest to become the first American to climb the 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000 meters, he and a friend nearly get thrown off the face of K2 when they're caught in an avalanche. It's one of the few moments in the story when his life genuinely seems at risk, as his intense focus on safety is generally successful. "Getting to the top is optional," he warns. "Getting down is mandatory." That lesson comes through most forcefully when Viesturs recounts how he almost attempted to reach the summit at Everest the day before the group Jon Krakauer wrote about in Into Thin Air, but backed out because it just didn't feel right. His expertise adds a compelling eyewitness perspective to those tragic events, but the main focus is clearly on Viesturs and his self-imposed "Endeavor 8000." From his earliest climbs on the peaks of the Pacific Northwest to his final climb up the Himalayan mountain of Annapurna, Viesturs offers testimony to the sacrifices (personal and professional) in giving your life over to a dream, as well as the thrill of seeing it through. (Oct.)
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For nearly two decades Viesturs has been living his dream: to scale the world's 14 tallest peaks--the 8,000ers, as they're known, the 14 mountains taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). All of them are in Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet, and none is easy to conquer. Viesturs, who has stood atop Everest half a dozen times, is among the world's most accomplished climbers, and even he admits it's no picnic dragging yourself up to those heights. With coauthor Roberts, a veteran mountaineering author, Viesturs turns his quest to conquer the 8,000ers into a compelling story of dedication, desperation, danger, derring-do, and devotion (physical and spiritual). Fans of extreme-sport books, especially tales of high adventure, will want to add this one to their collections. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.