Jimmy Chin
Viesturs approaches the 17,000-foot level on Annapurna.
msnbc.com
updated 5/13/2005 6:18:19 PM ET 2005-05-13T22:18:19

A Seattle man has become the first American to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, an 18-year adventure that culminated Thursday on the summit of Nepal’s 26,545-foot Annapurna.

Ed Viesturs, 46, who has climbed the world’s highest peak, 29,035-foot Mount Everest, six times, reached the summit along with three Italian climbers whose names were not immediately available, according to an e-mail from his wife, Paula.

"It sounded like it took them a lot longer than expected (due to) deep snow and a less direct route due to crevasses," she wrote in the e-mail to friends. Viesturs and the Italian climbers were descending to their high camp on the mountain and were expected to arrive within hours, according to the e-mail sent at 2:26 a.m. PT.

Viesturs was joined on the expedition by his longtime climbing partner Veikka Gustafsson of Finland, who has summited 11 of the 14 highest peaks with Viesturs.

Success on third attempt
It was their third attempt to conquer the Himalayan giant, statistically the world’s most dangerous mountain for climbers: One dies for every two who reach the top.

Viesturs nicknamed his bid to reach all 14 of the summits “Endeavor 8000.” On a Web page detailing his exploits, he said: “I'm a very goal-oriented person, and I like things that take a long time to accomplish.”

Didrik Johnck
The summit of Annapurna is bathed in morning sunlight.
A veterinarian by training, Viesturs attained all 14 summits without the use of supplemental oxygen. “I climb without bottled oxygen, even if it keeps me from reaching the summit,” he wrote on his Web site. “My personal goal is to see how I can perform, to experience the mountain as it is without reducing it to my level. For me, how I reach the top is more important than whether I do.”

The climb was tracked on a daily basis by MSN’s Travel Central, where recent updates tracked the climbers to Camp 3 at 23,000 feet on Sunday and anticipated that, with good weather, they would make the summit within a few days.

(MSN Travel is owned by Microsoft, which is a partner with NBC in MSNBC.com.)

The other 8,000'ers
In addition to Annapurna and Everest, the other members of the 8,000-meter (26,250 feet) club are: K2 at 28,250 feet; Kanchenjunga, 28,169; Lhotse, 27,939; Dhualagiri, 26,794; Makalu, 27,765; Manaslu, 26,758;  Cho Oyu, 26,750; Nanga Parbat, 26,658; Gasherbrum I, 26,470; Broad Peak, 26,400; Gasherbrum II, 26,360; and Shishapangma, 26,300.

Viesturs was a key player in rescue efforts on Mount Everest in 1996 when his friends and climbing colleagues Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, and seven others, were killed. The events were chronicled in the best-selling book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer.

Viesturs and his wife have three children: Gil, 7; Ella, 4; and Anabel, 6 months. They live on Bainbridge Island, a suburb outside Seattle.

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