Hands down the greatest American mountaineer of all time, Ed Viesturs has set an unwavering example for climbing success. Along with a lifetime of achievements that include bagging all fourteen 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, Viesturs is known for his unparalleled leadership and countless acts of high-altitude heroism, which define him as a mountain among men.
This world-class climber and influence to mountaineering guides around the globe is also a best-selling author of four books. His most recent, The Mountain: My Time on Everest (Touchstone, October 2013), is a collection of never-before-told accounts of his trials on Everest, and perhaps a way of saying goodbye to a mountain he successfully summited seven times.
We spoke with Viesturs about the most crucial part of an ascent, a serendipitous meeting at the top of Everest, his onetime resemblance to Alfred E. Newman, and which mountain was his toughest climb.
What do people misunderstand most in terms of climbing Everest?
I think today the misunderstanding is that anybody and everybody can climb the mountain. That for a certain amount of money, somebody will take you to Everest, and whether they're going to carry you or pull you or drag you, somehow money will get you to the top. Everest is not easier today than it was in 1953. It's not lower.