- This article is about the mountaineer. For the politician, see Jim Whitaker.
James W. Whittaker, also known as Jim Whittaker (born February 10, 1929) is an American mountaineer.
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.
Whittaker graduated from West Seattle High School and Seattle University.
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.
In 1965 he guided Robert Kennedy up the newly named Mount Kennedy.
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.
- Jim Whittaker: A Life on the Edge, Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, March 21, 2002
- Interview with Jim Whittaker (2007)
- Sarah Holbrooke interviews Jim Whittaker by Mountainfilm in Telluride
- Jim Whittaker at the Internet Movie Database