Ed Viesturs on Climbing Out of a Recession
Text by Mike Benoist; Photograph courtesy of Eddie Bauer / Jake Norton
On March 25, Ed Viesturs, America’s preeminent high altitude mountaineer, will officially un-retire. The man who once told ADVENTURE “I have no desire to climb above 8,000 meters again,” will return to Everest for the eleventh time on a team sponsored by Eddie Bauer, gunning for his seventh summit. “I’m just trying to keep up with Lance,” he says. But while Viesturs’s time away from the high peaks was short, it was hardly unproductive. Since climbing all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter mountains, Viesturs has co-written a memoir, No Shortcuts to the Top (Broadway), and the book’s themes—teamwork, risk management, and goal-setting—have attracted a very slick set of followers: business execs. (The president of steel giant Arcelor Mittal recently flew the climber to Delhi to speak at their global sales meeting.) We caught up to Viesturs as he packed for Everest to ask him about his transition from base camp to the boardroom. Now if we could only get Wall Street to adopt Viesturs’s risk management strategies….
ADVENTURE: Did you write No Shortcuts to the Top with the business crowd in mind?
ED VIESTURS: No. I just wanted to portray climbing as a thinking man’s sport. If you want to survive, you’ve got to plan and budget and organize. It just sort of fell into place that the business community started reading and saying, Oh man, all these messages here are perfect for my business. It was just kind of by accident.
A: What are your main messages?
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EV: Teamwork. Overcoming insurmountable obstacles. Doing things one day at a time, one step at a time. Perseverance. Passion. These are all things that companies try to impart on their employees. They always say, Hey, we did great this year, let’s set the bar higher next year. My message is: You can always do better. You can always challenge yourself.