Travel Book

Ed Viesturs’ No Shortcuts to the Top | a book review

By on June 10, 2015

No Shortcuts - Ed Viesturs covert

On May 12, 2005, high-altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs finally summited Annapurna, the tenth highest mountain in the world. It was probably one of his most memorable climbs since this particular massif has denied him the summit twice in the past.

On that fateful day too, Viesturs became the first American to climb all fourteen of the world’s eight-thousander mountain peaks – Everest, K2, Annapurna and 11 others that are scattered all over the Himalayan mountain ranges. But what’s particularly remarkable and mind-blowing with his feat is that he climbed all of them without any supplemental oxygen.

He joins a very elite group of like-minded mountaineers who climb mountains only “by fair means” – a principle championed by the legendary Reinhold Messner, the first person to pull-off such remarkable display of discipline, strength and will back in 1986.

No Shortcuts - Ed Viesturs excerpt

Like Messner, Ed also wanted ‘to test his skills and natural abilities on the mountain’s terms and not his own.’ This climbing ethic best explains the title of his autobiography – No Shortcuts to the Top. In here he shares his incredible journey, from his very first eight-thousander all the way to Annapurna. Needless to say that it was one that was fraught with joy and sorrow, and riddled with various successes and a few setbacks in between.

I won’t be surprised to see books like this ending up in a climbing enthusiast’s library as there are valuable and practical advices that he or she can pick-up here. An example is Ed’s now famous mantra/quote – “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory” which is a sobering and life-saving reminder especially for those who ‘conquer’ mountains with misplaced zeal.

But for everyone else, you might still find No Shortcuts to the Top an engrossing read. Intertwined with the adventure narratives are some of Ed’s interesting personal life stories that have contributed in pushing him to climb one eight-thousander after the other.

  1. Reply


    June 11, 2015

    I think I am over with the thought of conquering higher peaks. But my admiration for such conquerors and victors would never wane, especially those who literally do not short cut and take the easier path. Great post, Bren!

    • Reply


      June 11, 2015

      I don't climb as often as I would want to these days. But I missed the outdoors when I read books like this. Thank you for dropping by LegendHarry! Welcome to Baktin Corporation.

  2. Reply


    June 16, 2015

    I am just a newbie climber. Last weekend was just my second climb at Pico De Loro.

    And what mountain climbing has taught me is indeed it is not easy to go to the top or summit. I remember how I experienced palpitation and shortness of breath on my first climb in Mountain province. It was realy hard. I wanted to go back but it was 4 in the morning, the trail going back was dark LOL!

    But when I reached the summit, I realized it was all worth it.

    And just like in life, to be on top or to reach our goals, we need to sacrifice and experience hardships. But it's all gonna be worth it.

    • Reply


      June 18, 2015

      More often than not, I doubt/ask myself halfway through every climb – why I put up with all the trouble in getting to the jump off, how I can survive this trek sans the familiar comforts and do I really have to go through the unavoidable slippery/muddy trails? But in the end everything was well worth it, right? 🙂

      Keep on climbing Jon!


Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokémon GO or not.

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