Extraordinary keynotes highlighting stories from the first American to summit Mt. Everest.

Jim Whittaker

"My father's greatest living heroes were John Glenn and Jim Whittaker, a physical giant with a huge heart, a decent soul and inspirational courage. We can all be grateful that Whittaker has finally put his extraordinary life on paper. Whittaker's story is a riveting saga of high adventure by one of history's greatest climbers."
-Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Inspirational Adventurer and Keynoter, Jim Whittaker, an American hero, was born in Seattle in 1929 to a family that revered the natural world and never put boundaries on what is possible in life. Jim and his twin brother Lou discovered a passion for climbing early in their childhood. Training with Lou on Mount Rainier and surrounding peaks of the Northwest, set the stage for later accomplishments. In 1963, Jim summited Mt. Everest and made history as the first American to reach the world's highest peak. This event became the moment around which the rest of his life would pivot.

In his lifetime, Jim Whittaker was a confidant of Bobby Kennedy; the first full-time employee at REI and a pivotal player in growing REI from a makeshift back room operation into a multi-million dollar corporation, and leader of the famous 1990 International Peace Climb. At age 70, Jim continues to set goals and take risks. His latest adventure? Circumnavigating the world with his family aboard their sailboat.

Jim Whittaker and wife Dianne Roberts, a photographer, have shared adventures on several continents. Dianne made it to Camp 5 on K2 and coordinated the planning for the 1990 International Peace Climb up Mount Everest. Today, the family lives for much of the year aboard Impossible, sailing to exotic places around the world.

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.
-Jim Whittaker