Jim Whittaker

The first American to summit Mount Everest

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The first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, Jim Whittaker's name is synonymous with risk, leadership, and achievement. Yet for Jim, these physical achievements are just the tip of the iceberg. The internationally known mountaineer, adventurer and environmentalist is also an accomplished and inspirational public speaker. Mr. Whittaker has given presentations to hundreds of corporations and organizations for over 30 years.

Beyond the summit, Mr. Whittaker is a visionary business and community leader: Past President and the first full-time employee, and later CEO of one of the country's largest outdoor retailers—Recreational Equipment, Inc. [REI]. Additionally, he is the author of the award-winning memoir, A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond.

He has served as confidant to Bobby Kennedy; been a pivotal player in growing REI from a makeshift back room operation into a multi-million dollar corporation, and became leader of the famous 1990 International Peace Climb. Even in his 70s, Jim continues to set goals and take risks. You'll often now find him sailing across oceans with his family aboard their sailboat, "The Impossible."

In his presentation A LIFE ON THE EDGE: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond, Jim addresses themes of risk taking as he shares his incredible life story with audiences.

An excerpt: "I heard a phrase not too long ago that pretty well captures my philosophy of life: 'If you aren't living on the edge, you're taking up too much space.' It has nothing to do with thrill-seeking. It's about making the most of every moment, about stretching your own boundaries, about being willing to learn constantly and putting yourself in situations where learning is possible-sometimes even critical to your survival. Being out on the edge, with everything at risk, is where you learn - and grow - the most."

Other accomplishments of Jim Whittaker include:

Travels From: Seattle, WA

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Outside Magazine's account of "Lost on Everest" about the history making 1963 expedition
Bloomberg News - Mount Everest's First U.S. Conqueror Recalls 1963 Climb
Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine - In the spirit of his home state, Jim Whittaker defined daring