Vladas Vitkauskas in 2014
Vladas Vitkauskas (born May 7, 1953 in Viduklė, Raseiniai district in Lithuania) became the first Lithuanian and the first mountaineer from the Baltic states to climb the world‘s highest mountain, Mt. Everest (8,848 m, May 10, 1993).
Between 1993 and 1996 Vitkauskas climbed the Seven Summits, the highest peaks of all the continents including Mt. Everest (Eurasia), Mt. McKinley (6,194 m, North America), Vinson Massif (4,897 m, Antarctica), Kilimanjaro (5,895 m, Africa), Mt. Kosciusko (2,228 m, Australia), Aconcagua (6,959 m, South America); also Elbrus (5,642 m, Caucasus) and Mont Blanc (4,807 m, Alps) in Europe. He was the first to raise the same national flag on each of them, in his case the Lithuanian flag. He organised his own trip to the Himalaya and climbed Mt. Everest alone, having registered as a photographer of the Nepalese Women Everest Expedition. He also made solo climbs to the peaks of Mt. McKinley and Aconcagua.
Vitkauskas has also climbed the highest peaks in the former Soviet Union: Mt. Communism (7,495 m, now Ismoil Somoni) and Korzhenevskaya (7,105 m) in 1989 and Lenin (7,134 m, now Avicenna) and Khan Tengri (6,995 m) in 1990. He participated and organised expeditions to the mountains in the Caucasus, Tien Shan, Altay, Siberia, and Pamir, and skiing expeditions in the Khibins (Kola Peninsula), the Arctic Circle, and the Bering Strait.
He arranged a cultural research expedition to Chile and the Andes (in 2002, declared the International Ignacy Domeyko Year by UNESCO) in commemoration of the bicentenary anniversary of the birth of Ignacy Domeyko, a distinguished scientist of Lithuanian origin. He ascended the highest peak Donja Ines (5,075 m) in the Cordillera de Domeyko and Ojos del Salado (6,893 m), the highest volcano on the earth. He also organised the first Lithuanian expedition to the Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindu Kush mountain ranges in Pakistan. He was a member of the hot air balloon flight for the absolute altitude record (10,064 m, Nov. 27, 2006), the distance and duration records (Mar 3, 2007) in Lithuania.
Vitkauskas gives many seminars and lectures, arranges meetings with the public. He also gives lectures at business management courses at Lithuanian and foreign companies. He arranges and promotes cultural and health and natural lifestyles events. Vladas Vitkauskas graduated from Kaunas Polytechnic Institute with a diploma in electronic engineering in 1975. He is a member of the Lithuanian Art Photography Union; he held 54 photography exhibitions, a prize winner at the international photography competition “World Wide Tour Photo ’99” and “Thoughts of the Live Earth” (2003). He is the author of photography exhibitions at the National Gallery (1998), the Lithuanian National Museum (2002), at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris (2002), and video documentaries.
Vitkauskas is the founder and first president of the Lithuanian Mountaineering Association (1996–1999); founder and chairman of the Everest Foundation, head of the Naturavita health centre; a member of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee, member of the advisory board of the magazine “Santara”.
He is the first mountain climber to be awarded (1997) the diploma of honour of the international Fair Play Committee for participating in the rescue of the body of Pasang Lhamu, the leader of the Nepalese Women Everest Expedition (1993) from Mt. Everest.
- International Fair Play Committee diploma of honour (1997).
- Medals of the Ministry of Culture and Department of Physical Culture and Sports at the .government of the Republic of Lithuania: “For High Sports Achievements” (1993), “For Merits to Lithuanian Sports” (1993, 1998), the gold medal “For merits to Lithuanian sports” (2003).
- Medal of the First Class Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas(1994).
- Olympic Star of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (2003).
- Order of Concord “Pro augenda concordia” (2009).
- Everestas’94. 1994 metų kalendorius. Vilnius, Du Ka, 1993. – Liet., angl.
- Aukščiau pasaulio viršukalnių / Above the Peaks of the World. Vilnius, DuKa, 1998. – Liet., angl.
- Everestas – manoji lemtis. Vilnius, Vilniaus universiteto leidykla, 2002.
- My Mountain, My Destiny // P. Cousineau. Soul moments. Berkeley, USA, Conari Press, 1997.
- Apie savo keliones. // K. Švedas. Geografinių atradimų istorija. Vilnius, Švietimo ir mokslo ministerijos leidybos centras, 1997.
- Į aukščiausias visų žemynų viršukalnes. // R. Krupickas ir Č. Kudaba. Kaunas, “Šviesa”, 2000.
- G. Motuza – bendraaut. Ignoto Domeikos keliais nuo Santjago iki Atakamos. // Ignotas Domeika 1802 – 1889: tarptautinės mokslinės konferencijos darbai. Vilnius, 2002. – Liet., angl.
- Su Gražina Didelyte suvedė kalnai... // Gražina Didelytė mūsų atminty. Sudarytojas Vygandas Čaplikas. Vilnius, Petro ofsetas, 2008.
- Fotografijos. // Stanislovas Moravskis. Nuo Merkinės iki Kauno. Parengė Reda Griškaitė. Vilnius, Vilniaus dailės akademijos leidykla. 2009.
- Į aukščiausias žemės viršukalnes. // Kalnams pašaukus. Sudarytojas V. Stepulis. Vilnius, 2011.