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Ed Viesturs Ultimate Summit: Welcome to the 14 8000er club!
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May 12, 2005 12: 54 EST
This morning, Ed Viesturs' dream came true: To summit all the 14, 8000+ peaks on Earth. With that, he became the first American, and the 12th climber in history to achieve this feat. Moreover, he has summited them all without supplementary O2, something only five other climbers in the world have done.

A 16 year-long quest

This final summit also marks an ending point to a long quest that began in Himalaya 16 years ago, starting with Ed's first Himalayan summit - Kangchenjunga - considered by many climbers as the most difficult of the 14, 8000ers.

Ed summited the mountain on May 18, 1989, kicking off a long climbing career, with obstacles sometimes seemingly impossible to overcome. Even after summitting Everest six times (three without O2); Annapurna rejected him twice.

Third time's a charm

This season, Viesturs was attempting Annapurna for the third time. Prior to departure, he was excited and uneasy at the same time. "I will approach this climb as I have all of my other climbs-very thoughtfully and carefully. It has to be safe and feel right,"

Annapurna was special to Ed: "As a kid, the book Annapurna inspired me to become a climber,” he explained. “Never did I think that that book would have pushed me this far and for this long. It seems appropriate that Annapurna is the final 8000 meter peak. It is probably also appropriate that, being the trickiest to climb, I will need all of the experience that I have gained to do it safely."

The tracks of the pioneers

Today, May 12th, 2005, Viesturs summited Annapurna via the same route described in his childhood book: The one of the first ascent, by a French team led by Maurice Herzog on the 3rd of June, 1950. That climb was also the first time that men stood atop an 8000er.

As his Italian summit-mates put it, despite being considered the ‘normal’ route on Annapurna, there is nothing easy about it. The success came only after hard work fixing ropes on the Italians' part, and the summit team was held hostage in their tents at 7000m for three days.

A dream come true

“The first time on the summit of Everest without oxygen was a dream come true: Physically and mentally I can't think of anything harder," recalled Ed. “But Annapurna will be the culmination of a massive project and it will be a special moment as well."

Ed Viesturs 45, lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington with Wife Paula, son Gilbert (7), and daughters Ella (4), and Anabel (5 months). He has summited all the 14 8000ers without oxygen. He has six ascents of Everest, 3 times without supplementary oxygen, and Cho Oyu twice.

Last year, Ed summited Everest for the sixth time together with Veikka Gustafsson, David Breashears, Robert Schauer, Jimmy Chin, Amy Bullard and seven climbing Sherpa's. Ed was co-expedition leader (with David Breashears) of an Everest film project for Working Title Films and Universal Pictures.

This year, Ed and Veikka climbed Cho Oyu to acclimatize. Veikka summited whist Ed turned back to help Jimmy Chin down – Chin was suffering from Cerebral Edema symptoms.

They got to Annapurna BC last week, and rapidly joined the Italian team led by Silvio Mondinelli on their summit bid.

Along with Ed and Veikka, Italians Mario Merelli, Mario Panzeri and Danielle Bernasconi have reached the summit.

Image of Viesturs after summiting Broad Peak in 2003 courtesy of edviesturs.com.

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