Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Mountain: My Time on Everest

The Mountain: My Time on EverestThe Mountain: My Time on Everest by Ed Viesturs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you are Ed Viesturs's mom, look away now. You may not want to read this...

I love reading travel and adventure memoirs. Reading about places that I may never get to visit, dangers I may never get to experience, and people I may never get to meet makes me feel a little more well-rounded. I have armchair traveled to Everest several times and thought I would enjoy this book, so I bought it without reading anything about it.

Ed Viesturs comes across as strangely unlikeable and a bit of an ass. He was featured in the Everest IMAX documentary and he didn't seem that way in the movie, so I have to attribute it to the weird combination of using a co-writer whose voice differed so greatly from the voice in Viestur's climbing diaries. The entire book reads as one huge humblebrag. He sprinkles stories of climbing history, his attempts on Everest and other 8000s, and adventures of other climbers he has known and worked with throughout the book. His diary entries made me think, "I'll bet this guy is insufferable at parties. He thinks he's amazing." I get it; you are brave and have successfully reached the summit several times--no small feat. I would never, ever attempt such insanity, as I hate to be cold and am a bit afraid of heights. He seemed critical of some of his peers and a bit smug about the decisions he would have made in those situations, as if his superior judgment is why he is alive today while so many others have perished. But Ed, mountain climbing is an inherently dangerous sport. If you have not had an unfortunate accident, I believe it is a matter of luck, not skill. Mother Nature can and will take you out at anytime, so count your blessings.

I did enjoy all of the stories about various summit attempts on Everest, and would still recommend to people who love adventure and climbing. But Viesturs's writing definitely annoyed me. I have a copy of another one of his books, "No Shortcuts to the Top," and I will give it a try. Hopefully it is less of a humblebrag and more of a collection of entertaining climbing vignettes. One more chance, Ed, one more chance. Don't let me down!

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