Friday, May 6

This is impressive to me, since I can't make it up the smaller Mountains of Montana!

MSN Travel First & Best:

"But these seminal achievements pale next to the objective that we are reporting, exclusively for MSN, over the next weeks: the attempt by Ed Viesturs to be the first American to complete the quest to summit all 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters (26,250 feet), into what climbers call 'the death zone'—all of them without bottled oxygen, the ultimate in physical and mental challenges. The final summit in Viesturs' odyssey is the 8,091-meter (26,545-foot) Annapurna, perhaps the second-most famous Himalayan mountain after Everest, and notably more difficult and dangerous to climb. Statistically it is the world's most hazardous mountain: roughly one climber dies for every two who reach the summit.

The club of 8,000-meter conquerors is tiny. Only a handful of people have ever attained this utmost coronet (Austrian Reinhold Messner blazed this conceit in 1986), and no other American has come close. Ed, who is known for his judicious approach to mountain safety, has twice turned around on the 5-vertical-mile-high frozen monolith of ice and stone that is Annapurna, citing suboptimal conditions. But the stakes are higher now than ever before in this 18-year pursuit. Ed is on the far side of his middle 40s and has a wife, Paula, and three young children—Gil, 7; Ella, 4; and now Anabel, born just last October, awaiting his return. He now climbs to come home."

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With octaves of a mystic depth and height