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Ed Viesturs (born June 22, 1959) is one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers. He is one of only 18 people to have climbed all eight-thousander peaks.

Early life

Born of Latvian and German descent and raised in Rockford, Illinoismarker, Viesturs moved to Seattle, Washingtonmarker in 1977 to attend the University of Washingtonmarker. It was here that he began his mountaineering career on the slopes of Mount Rainiermarker. Viesturs graduated from the University of Washington in 1981 with a BS in zoology, and eventually became a guide for Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. He later obtained a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Washington State Universitymarker.

Mountain climbing career

His interest in the Himalayamarker was sparked in high school by reading Maurice Herzog's account of the first climb of Annapurnamarker. After climbing Kanchenjungamarker in 1989, Mount Everestmarker in 1990, and K2marker in 1992, Viesturs became an international mountain guide and was sponsored for full-time mountaineering. He served as a guide for Rob Hall's Adventure Consultants company during their 1995 Everest expedition.

Viesturs was in the IMAX team during the 1996 Everest Disaster. He was the star of the Everest IMAX film. Filming was delayed as the blizzard struck. The IMAX team postponed shooting to aid the stranded climbers. The team decided to keep going and summitted Everest on May 23, 1996.

Viesturs' recent climbs have included Broad Peakmarker and Nanga Parbatmarker in 2003, Mount Everest (seventh time) in 2009, and Annapurna in 2005.

Viesturs climbs with partner Veikka Gustafsson.

In 2005, Viesturs became the 12th person to summit all eight-thousander peaks. He was the first American to accomplish this feat.

On November 5, 2006, Viesturs completed his first marathon, the ING New York City Marathon, in 3:15:18.

On August 17, 2007, Viesturs summitted Mount Rainier for the 200th time.

On May 19, 2009, Viesturs summitted Mt. Everest for the 7th time.


Viesturs is a recipient of the David A. Sowles Memorial Award from the American Alpine Club.

He is the first Americanmarker, and 12th person overall, to summit all fourteen mountains over 8000 meters (collectively known as the eight-thousanders), and the sixth climber to do it without bottled oxygen.

Viesturs also has summitted Mount Everestmarker seven times, a feat that has only been surpassed by a number of Sherpas (Apa Sherpa in the lead with 19 summits), and three western climbers: Peter Athans (7), Gheorghe Dijmarescu (9), and Dave Hahn (11).

Other work

He was a cinematographer in the 2003 film Trio for One, which told the story of French alpinist Jean-Christophe Lafaille's mission to climb Dhaulagirimarker, Nanga Parbatmarker and Broad Peakmarker in a period of two months.


In October 2006, Viesturs published No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the Worlds 14 Highest Peaks, an autobiography that documented his 16-year journey summitting all fourteen eight-thousanders.

He made a cameo appearance playing himself in the film Vertical Limit.

He was a guest on the Daily Show on December 7, 2006, and appeared on The Colbert Report on March 14, 2007, where he agreed to plant a Colbert Report flag on top of Mount Everest the next time he went. On July 2, 2009, he brought the Colbert Nation flag back from Everest's summit to the show.

He was featured on the cover of Outside Magazine's thirtieth anniversary issue in 2007.

In October 2009, Viesturs and David Roberts published the book K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, which tells the story of six expeditions to the world's second tallest mountain.


  1. FirstAscent; Ed Viesturs summit #7. "Viesturs, Whittaker and Team - 29,035 ft.". Born Out There. May 18, 2008
  2. Hill, Craig. "Glory, death share stage on Everest". The News Tribune. May 25, 2006
  3. Dave Hahn International Mountain Guides

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