Internationally famous mountaineer, adventurer, speaker and environmentalist,
best known as the first American to climb Mt. Everest; May 1, 1963.
· Visionary business and
community leader; Past President and CEO of one of the country’s
largest outdoor retailers, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
(The Jim Whittaker Collection products
Accomplished and inspirational public speaker; has given presentations
to hundreds of corporations and organizations over more than thirty
· Author of an award-winning
memoir, A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond.
· Former guide and climbing
instructor on Mt. Rainier; as member of the National Ski Patrol,
Mountain Rescue, and the Mountaineers, led life-saving rescues of
skiers, climbers and aircraft.
· Drafted into the US Army; taught
mountaineering and skiing to Tenth Special Forces and Green Berets
during Korean War.
· Involved in climbing accident on
Mt. McKinley that led to the biggest mountain rescue effort in U.S.
history, including a treacherous helicopter liftoff from 17,300’ by
legendary pilot Link Luckett.
· Led Senator Robert Kennedy on
first ascent of Mt. Kennedy, a peak in the Canadian Yukon named for his
slain brother; became close friends with Bobby and the Kennedy family,
joining them often at Hyannis Port, Hickory Hill (RFK’s home in
Virginia) and on skiing, river rafting, sailing and other adventures;
Washington State campaign chairman for Senator Kennedy in 1968; was at
the Senator’s bedside when he died and served as a pallbearer at
· In 1978, organized and led the
first American ascent of K2, world’s second highest—and many say most
dangerous—peak, after five American failures spanning 40 years.
· Against formidable political and
logistical odds, organized and led the spectacularly successful 1990 Mt.
Everest Peace Climb, which put twenty men and women from three
superpowers—the US, China and the Soviet Union—on the summit of Everest;
to help focus world attention on environmental issues, removed two tons
of garbage left on the mountain by previous expeditions.
· Certified scuba diver and former
member of the Northwest Underwater Research Group; has descended to a
depth of 185’.
· With his wife, photographer
Dianne Roberts, designed and built a stunning log home—dubbed by their
friends, the “Taj Macabin”—overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca in
Port Townsend, Washington.
· Accomplished bluewater sailor;
twice skippered his own boats on the 2,400-mile Victoria, Canada to
Maui, Hawaii sailing race; raced and cruised extensively in the Pacific
Northwest and inside passage for twenty years; over the past four years,
sailed his 54’ steel pilothouse ketch, Impossible, with his wife and two
sons, Joss (19) and Leif (17), from Port Townsend, Washington to Mexico,
the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotus, Society Islands (Tahiti, Moorea,
Bora Bora), Cook Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia,
Australia and back to the United States—a journey of more than 20,000
In September 1999, Jim’s autobiography,
A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond,
was published by The Mountaineers Books in Seattle, Washington. He has
traveled throughout the USA on a book promotion tour, appeared on
countless television programs and in other media, and personally
autographed thousands of copies of his book. It was awarded the year
2000 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award for literary
excellence in the category of Memoir, and was released in soft cover in
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