"Lots of Fun": The Viesturs Resumé

"Only when guiding," says Ed Viesturs of his philosophy on using supplemental oxygen, "but never when attempting to climb a mountain for the first time." A testament to titanic lung capacity, Viesturs has etched a record on 8,000-meter peaks surpassed by no other American. Here are the highlights, along with Grateful Ed's vivid recollections:

Dec 1, 2000
Outside Magazine

1978 Mount Rainier, Washington (14,410 feet) via Gibraltar Ledges: Ed's first big summit. Has since topped the peak 187 times.

1983 Mount McKinley, Alaska (20,320 feet) via West Buttress: In only his second year as a professional, Ed is "shocked" at being chosen to accompany senior guide Phil Ershler.

1987 Mount Everest, Nepal (29,028 feet) via North Face: Making his first attempt with mentor Eric Simonson, the pair turn around 300 feet shy of summit.

1988 Everest via East Face: Viesturs turns around again, at 20,000 feet, due to "extreme, uncontrollable danger. I wasn't interested in putting my life on the line," he says.

1989 Kanchenjunga, India (28,208 feet) via North Face: His first 8,000-meter summit. "Just a great trip, perfect conditions."

1990 Everest via North Ridge: Summits the world's highest peak on third attempt. How'd it feel? "Never thought I'd be there again."

1991 Everest via South Col: His first attempt as a guide; Ed summits but client does not.

1992 K2, Pakistan (28,250 feet) via Abruzzi Ridge, with friends Scott Fischer and Charlie Mace: His hardest climb ever. He and Fischer help rescue fellow climber Chantal Mauduit after she succumbs to snow blindness near the summit. "That one was really tough."

1993 Shishapangma, Central Summit, Tibet (26,291 feet) via Northeast Ridge: Stops three meters shy of true summit. Will return in spring 2001 to appease critics: "It's sort of this nagging thing. But if I do manage to do all 14, then it will be clean."

Everest via North Face: Solo attempt sponsored by MTV and Polo-Ralph Lauren thwarted by bad weather.

1994 Everest via South Col: Leads six clients to top with one of his best friends, New Zealand mountaineer Rob Hall. Verdict: "Wonderful time and conditions were great.

"Lhotse, Nepal (27,943 feet) via West Face: Tackles this only seven days after Everest. First time he and Hall attempt to bag more than one 8,000-meter peak in one burst.

Cho Oyu, Nepal (26,750 feet) via Northwest Ridge: Ranks as easiest climb at 8,000 meters. Says Ed: "That was a great trip, lots of fun."

1995 Gasherbrum II, Pakistan (26,360 feet) via South Ridge: Four-day, Alpine-style ascent, his sixth of the 8,000-meter summits.

Gasherbrum I, Pakistan (26,470 feet) via Japanese Couloir: Up and down in 42 hours just one week after Gasherbrum II. Report: "Perfect conditions, lots of fun."

Everest via South Col: Forced to turn back by terribly windy conditions with clients in tow.

Makalu, Nepal (27,824 feet) via Northwest Ridge: First climb with new partner Veikka Gustafsson and last summit with Rob Hall.

1996 Everest via South Col: The IMAX film makes Ed famous, but the storm at the top takes the lives of friends Fischer and Hall.

1997 Broad Peak, Pakistan (26,400 feet) via West Face: Two-day Alpine ascent, his third with Gustafsson. Repeat the mantra: "Perfect conditions. A lot of fun."

Everest via South Col: His last time up. Forms Everest Anonymous, a mock support group for climbers with Everest addiction.

1999 Manaslu, Nepal (26,760 feet) via Northeast Ridge: Difficult route results in a 16-day haul for him and Gustafsson. How hard? "Oh, it was great. It was very interesting."

Dhaulagiri, Nepal (26,811 feet) via Northeast Ridge: Summits in three days—only eight days after topping out on Manaslu.

What's Next
2001 Shishapangma: Needs to go back and "complete" his original climb on the mountain where Alex Lowe died in an avalanche in 1999.

Nanga Parbat, Pakistan (26,660 feet): If he summits, he's almost there. Prognosis? "Very challenging mountain," says Ed. "I think it will be a lot of fun also. But not severely dangerous—there are really good ways to go up it."

2002 Annapurna, Nepal (26,504 feet): If all goes well, Viesturs will complete the 8,000-meter circuit on the peak whose first ascent by Maurice Herzog in 1950 acted as the inspiration for Ed's own exploits. —Chris Keyes

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