Ed Viesturs – How To Set The Highest Goals And Be Successful

  • Post Written by Jai Kai on July 2, 2009
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When it comes to setting goals no one sets them higher than Ed Viesturs and accomplishes them more successfully. On our journey to success, we can learn a valuable secret from this truly remarkable man. But first, let me tell you a little bit about Ed Viesturs in case you are not familiar with his extraordinary feats. In the world of mountain climbing and mountaineering, Ed Viesturs is truly a hero. He has committed his life to this extremely dangerous and fascinating sport. For Ed, mountaineering is more of an obsession demonstrating and mastering principles of risk, perseverance, determination and patience. He exhibits a strict plan of action on his journeys, weather he summits a mountain or not. Ed Viesturs is well known for his extraordinary high-altitude ability and has climbed the world’s most challenging peaks, including Annapurna, K2, and Mount Everest – which he has summited 5 times. National Geographic considers him one of the strongest high-altitude mountaineers on the planet, and Men’s Journal calls him “the ultimate climbing machine.”

Growing up in the flatlands of Rockford, Illinois, where the highest objects on the horizon were water towers, Viesturs became interested in climbing only after reading and being captivated by Annapurna, French climber Maurice Herzog’s famous account of the 1950 first ascent of an 8,000-meter peak. “What I liked was that these guys had a goal and they just wouldn’t give up. They spent months and months finding the mountain and then they climbed it. I’m a very goal-oriented person, and I like things that take a tremendous effort and time to accomplish,” explains Viesturs.

When taking on these remarkable feats, Viesturs prefers to experience the mountain without reducing it to his level – climbing without the aid of supplemental oxygen. On May 12, 2005, he realized an 18-year goal to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000-metre peaks under these conditions. He is one of only a handful of international climbers to complete this goal, and the only American in history to climb the world’s six highest peaks without supplemental oxygen.

So what is the secret to his successful accomplishments? Well his success is directly linked to his technique. He is known for his sensible approach to dangerous undertakings, and remains true to his motto, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” With the belief that the mountain determines his success, Viesturs will turn around if the conditions do not meet his exacting standards, as he did in 1988, 180 metres from the top of Everest. The secret to success is that sometimes conditions are not favourable so he must actually quit his attempt to summit a mountain and thus realize that he did not actually succeed in achieving his goal.

Sometimes Ed Viesturs fails and he accepts that failure. He doesn’t look at his journey as a failure but rather as a successful attempt because he made it back alive, enjoying and learning from the experience. It is like the old saying goes “It’s not the destination that matters but the journey that counts”. So, it is not the actual accomplishment of the goal, but it is the “taking action”, as you learn and enjoy every step of the way. We can all benefit from this philosophy in whatever goal we desire to achieve. We will have failures and not always accomplish our goals at a specific time. The difference between success and failure, winners and losers, is that successful people/ winners continue to pursue their goals with complete determination, persistence and perseverance. Eventually when the timing is right and conditions are favourable your goals will be accomplished and you will have achieved your goal. That is his secret to success.


Ed Viesturs has documented his journeys in Himalayan Quest: Ed Viesturs on the 8,000-Meter Giants, co-written with Peter Potterfield, and in his autobiography No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks, co-written with David Roberts and released in 2006. He is also one of the dynamic and proven speakers that form the National Geographic Speakers Bureau. I have had the opportunity to see this amazing man speak at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. If you truly want to be motivated and inspired to create and obtain success in your life, I recommend reading one of his books or see him speak live. I hope you enjoyed the video.

If you know of any travellers or adventurers who has demonstrated success please let us know and I will feature them here under this blog category.

If you are into mountain climbing and looking for new ways to expand your horizon and step out of your comfort zone check out http://www.allclimbing.com.

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