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Published: May 2003

Ed Viesturs

Everest Summit View

The Will to Climb

By Miki Meek
Photograph by

Over the past 15 years Ed Viesturs has made a career of scaling the snowy tops of 12 of the world's 14 highest peaks. All located in the Himalaya's rugged playground, he's climbed some of them more than once and all without supplemental oxygen. One of two westerners to summit Everest five times or more, he has been called "superhuman" by other climbers.

But despite the herculean title, there's one thing he hasn't mastered. After hundreds of media interviews, roles in three films, and a large fan base that Viesturs calls the "Grateful Ed Tour," he still struggles to fully answer this question: Why climb?

America's premier high-altitude climber can tick off the positives of mountain climbing: personal satisfaction, trips to exotic locales, and the incredible view from the top. But he's not sure if those things quite cut to the core of why he does what he does—and loves it.

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