STATE OF WASHINGTON

SPORTS HALL OF FAME

 

 

 

 

 

"Recognizing Talented Sports Figures Around Washington"

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Mountaineering

Lou Whittaker

Inducted: 2010

Lou Whittaker began climbing mountains with twin brother Jim as a way for the pair to

battle asthma. 

 

His list of climbing accomplishments is impressive, starting in 1963 with a three-day

ascent of Mount McKinley in Alaska and including a 1965 winter climb of Mt. Fuji. In 1975

he was a member of an American team attempting to climb K2, the world's second

tallest peak. In 1984, two years after an unsuccessful attempt, Lou led the first American

team to summit Mt. Everest by climbing the mountain's north wall. One year later, his

climbing expertise was crucial in reaching many intact burial sites on a 1,000-foot cliff

face in the Peruvian Andes.  

 

In the spring of 1989 and going by way of the North Wall, Lou led the first successful

ascent by an American team to the top of Mt. Kangchenjunga in Nepal, the world's

third-tallest mountain. Six Americans reached the summit that day. 

 

Lou has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and many peaks in Europe with his wife Ingrid, who

is from Munich, Germany.  They have also trekked in Nepal and Bhutan. 

 

Lou was born in Seattle in 1929, graduated from West Seattle High School in 1947.

He and Jim had Basketball scholarships to Seattle University. They graduated in 1952. 

Lou and brother Jim started guiding for the Rainier National Park Company in 1951, but

in 1952 they were drafted into the Army following their college graduation.  He incorporated

his company, Rainier Mountaineering Inc., in 1968. It is the largest guide service and

climbing school in the United States. Lou was the Chief Guide on Mount Rainier for over

30 years. With the Army, Lou was an instructor at the Mountain and Cold Weather Training

Command. He is now an honorary member of the 10th Mountain Division, an elite

mountaineering corps of the U.S. Army.  

 

Lou is a charter member of the Mountain Rescue Council and was one of youngest

members of the National Ski Patrol.

In 1994 Lou gathered his memories into his first book: "Lou Whittaker, Memoirs of a Mountain Guide" 

Lou and Ingrid live in Ashford, at the entrance to Mt. Rainier in an underground passive solar

house they built with their own hands.   

 

Lou has also restored the old loggers bunkhouse in Ashford and made it into a very

successful Motel and Espresso shop popular with climbers on the way to Mt. Rainier. 

He recently added an annex by rescuing a building from Longmire and turning it into

guest rooms.

 

 

Jim Whittaker

Inducted: 2010

Jim Whittaker is best known as the first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the

highest point on earth, a feat accomplished on May 1, 1963. Jim also led Senator Robert

Kennedy on the first ascent of Mt. Kennedy in 1965, a peak in the Canadian Yukon named

for his slain brother.  

 

In 1978 Whittaker organized and led the first American ascent of K2, the world's second

highest mountain, succeeding after five American failures spanning 40 years.  

 

Against formidable political and logistical odds, Jim organized and led the spectacularly

successful 1990 Mt. Everest peach Climb which put 20 men and women from three

superpowers---the U.S., China and the Soviet Union---on the summit of Everest.  

 

As a former guide and climbing instructor on Mt. Rainier and a member of the National

Ski Patrol, Mountain Rescue, and the Mountaineers, Whittaker has led life-saving rescues

of skiers, climbers and aircraft.  

 

Jim was also the first full-time employee of Recreational Equipment Inc and was the

company's CEO in the 1960's. He is now Chairman of the Board of Magellan Navigation

a company that produces handheld global positioning system (GPS) units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Copyright 2011 State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame