Jim Whittaker speaking at the Computer History Museum.
|Born||February 10, 1929 (age 84)
|Education||West Seattle High School
As a member of the American Mount Everest Expedition 1963 led by Norman Dyhrenfurth, he was the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He summited on May 1, 1963 with the Sherpa Nawang Gombu (a nephew of Tenzing Norgay). They ran out of oxygen but managed to reach the summit. Once there, Whittaker planted a US flag at the top.
He is the twin brother of Lou Whittaker, a mountain guide who is often mistakenly credited with that achievement.
He was the first full-time employee of Recreational Equipment Inc. and was the company's CEO in the 1960s. Now, Whittaker is chairman of the Board of Magellan Navigation, a company that produces handheld global positioning system (GPS) units.
He led the Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb that brought together climbers from the United States, USSR and China to summit Mount Everest. In addition to putting more than a dozen climbers on the summit, the expedition hauled off a large amount of trash left on the mountain by previous expeditions.
In 1999 Whittaker released his autobiography, A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond.
Awards and honors
- For being the first American to scale Mount Everest, Whittaker was awarded the Hubbard Medal by United States President John F. Kennedy.
|“||If you aren't living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.||”|
|“||You never conquer a mountain. Mountains can't be conquered; you conquer yourself.||”|
(This is essentially equivalent to George Mallory's question and answer: "Have we conquered an enemy? None but ourselves," quoted in Everest: the West Ridge, p. 27. )
- Interview with Jim Whittaker (2007) http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&brand=&vid=4b543340-5307-4593-83cc-340bb6b2dffe
- Sarah Holbrooke intervies Jim Whittaker on Minds of Mountainfilm: http://vimeo.com/5322444