Throughout his life, peers have marveled at Whittaker’s resolve, perseverance, and outlook. His Everest training consisted of winter swims in Washington’s Lake Sammamich to get used to the cold and hiking 20,320 foot Mount McKinley with 60 pounds of bricks in his backpack.
On May 1, 1963, at the age of 34, Whittaker’s thorough preparation paid off. He pushed to the top of Everest even though his oxygen tank had long ago run out. But Everest was neither the first nor last of his achievements.
In the video below — “A Life Well Lived: Jim Whittaker and 50 Years of Everest” — Eric Becker gives us a portrait of the famous outdoorsman, businessman, and environmentalist. The video features archival footage of Whittaker’s Everest expeditions and tells the tale of a man who lived by the words: “If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”
Some pearls of wisdom from the video:
- “It’s not thrill seeking. Its just testing yourself.”
- “You learn there’s such a thing called gravity when you crash and burn. I think risk is really important.”
- “Being out on the edge, with everything at risk, is where you learn and grow the most.”
- And one given to him courtesy of “my friend, Bobby Kennedy,” who Whittaker lead through the Yukon: “Don’t go through life un-burnished.”
Watch the full video below:
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