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Ed Viesturs        

Mountaineer, Known as One Of the U.S.'s Foremost High-Altitude Climbers

Ed Viesturs is Americas most active and accomplished world-class high-altitude mountain climber. Dubbed the ultimate climbing machine, has set a goal to become the first American to reach the summit of all 14 of the worlds 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. His quest, which he calls Endeavor 8000, began in 1989 with his successful ascent of the worlds third highest peak Kangchenjunga, located in remote eastern Nepal. He has now sumitted 12 of these 14 mountains. Viesturs was featured as himself in the 2000 feature film Vertical Limit, starring Chris ODonnell and Bill Paxton.

Viesturs has been a climber most of his adult life. Known for his technical skill and shrewd judgment, he became a recognized mountaineer when he won the 1992 American Alpine Club/Sowles Memorial Award. This award is conferred from time to time on mountaineers for their unselfish devotion at personal risk to themselves, or at sacrifice of a major objective, in going to the assistance of fellow climbers imperiled in the mountains. It was given to him for his involvement in two separate rescues in 1992 on K-2, the second highest mountain in the world.

Viesturs became world renowned as America's best high-altitude climber as a result of David Breashears' seminal IMAX film, Everest, and the PBS NOVA film project, Into the Death Zone. During both film projects, in 1996 and 1997 respectively, Viesturs climbed Everest on cue. As the climbing leader of the 1996 Everest IMAX Filming Expedition, which entailed the first-ever filmed ascent to the summit of Everest with a large-format IMAX camera, Viesturs put his successful Everest summits count at five, (three without supplemental oxygen) a figure still unmatched by any other non-Sherpa climber.

In the spring of 1999, Viesturs completed the ascent of Manaslu and Dhaulagiri. The expedition, which was sponsored by National Geographic, was featured as a part of the Quest for Adventure spring 2000 lecture series. Pushing the Limits, recounting the story of Viesturs demanding expedition and shared secrets of climbing and surviving at high altitudes. The three-week ascent of Manaslu, which allowed acclimatization to high-altitude conditions, was followed promptly by a rapid ascent of Dhaulagiri, taking care of number 11 and 12 on Viesturs hit list.

Adding to his long list of accomplishments, Viesturs appeared in the Sony Pictures film The Vertical Limit. Directed by Martin Campbell, the movie is about a fictional climb of K-2, and stars Bill Paxton, Chris O'Donnell, and Scott Glenn. Viesturs plays himself in the film, which was a major blockbuster for the summer 2000. In addition, he has been honored with the Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club, a multidisciplinary, not for profit organization dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific research, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.

Speech Topics

No Shortcuts to the Top: Managing and Mitigating Risk Through Perseverance, Dedication, and Teamwork

Using dramatic slides and video, Viesturs recounts his 18-year quest to conquer the 14 highest mountains in the world, drawing from the experiences relevant strategies for managing risk, motivating a team, and staying focused on core values in the business world.

The Will to Climb

In his signature presentation, Viesturs shares highlights from his life as a mountaineer, and recounts attempts to summit Annapurna, the “world’s deadliest peak” and the one that defied Viesturs the longest.

Key points:

  1. “Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory.” Climbing a mountain has to be a round trip. You need to plan ahead and have resources to make sure you finish what you set out to do.

  2. “Listen to your instincts.” Make decisions based on your experience and gut feelings. Don’t get caught up in group think.

  3. “Temper your ambition in the face of overwhelming risk.” Be patient enough to wait for the right time to move forward, even if others are going ahead.

  4. “Patience and persistence are keys to success but I believe that passion is the most critical ingredient.” If you are passionate with what you do, you’ll perform better, enjoy the process and be willing to take as long as it takes to succeed.

  5. “Teamwork, regardless of the industry, is the same: It is an implicit trust in, and recognition that the person next to you is No. 1”.


American Climbing Legend Ed Viesturs So-So On New 'Everest' Movie

Ed Viesturs is the Reinhold Messner of American climbing. In 2005, he completed Endeavor 8000, his climbs without supplemental oxygen of the world's 14 ...

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