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K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain

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K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs
K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs

Some time in the not-to-distant future, Ed Viesturs will be traveling to Antarctica to climb the highest mountain on that continent.

That’s not quite because he’s already climbed all the other mountains of consequence on the planet, but almost. Viesturs has spent much of his life in thin air. In 2005, he became the first American to ascend all fourteen of the world’s 8,000 meter peaks. In the epilogue of this book, he acknowledges that “the future would seem empty to me if I had no more mountains to climb,” which may or may not trouble his wife and three young children.

In K2, Viesturs sometimes breaks his own rule against criticizing the decisions other climbers have made. He’s frank in expressing his opinion that most of the many people who have died while climbing ignored their own limits and common sense because they were too anxious to reach the summit. He celebrates at some length his own devotion to safe practices, while acknowledging that the mortal dangers inherent in climbing mountains like Everest and K2 are what attracts him to the adventures.

If some or all of the above seems muddled, at least that state of affairs won’t surprise Ed Viesturs, who maintains very early in the book that “nonclimbing (sic) journalists can never seem to get our stories right.”

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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