Reading from his book “My Old Man and the Mountain” and offering insights beyond, Port Townsend native Leif Whittaker gives a fresh perspective on a famous father and a legacy forged on the icy slopes of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, at the next Traveler’s Journal.
In 1963, the world followed the first American Mount Everest Expedition and watched as “Big Jim” Whittaker became the first American to stand on top of the world. He returned home a hero.
“My Old Man and the Mountain” is Whittaker’s engaging and humorous story of what it was like to “grow up Whittaker” — the youngest son of Jim Whittaker and Dianne Roberts, in an extended family of accomplished climbers. He shares glimpses of his upbringing and how the pressure to climb started early on.
Readers learn of his first adventures with family in the Olympic Mountains and on Mount Rainier; his close yet at times competitive relationship with his brother Joss; his battle with a serious back injury and his efforts to stand apart from his father’s legacy.
With wry honesty he depicts being a recent college grad, still living in his parents’ home and trying to find a purpose in life — digging ditches, building houses, selling T-shirts to tourists — until a chance encounter leads to the opportunity to climb Everest, just like his father did.
Leif heads to Nepal with all the excitement, irony, boredom and trepidation that are part of high-altitude climbing. Well-known guides Dave Hahn and Melissa Arnot figure prominently in his story, as does “Big Jim.” But Leif’s story is not his father’s story. It’s a unique coming of age tale on the steep slopes of Everest and a climbing adventure that lights the imagination and fills an emotional human endeavor with universal meaning.
About the presenter
Leif Whittaker was born in Port Townsend, at the foot of the Olympic Mountains. He reached his first major summit when he was 15 years old and he has since climbed many of the world’s tall mountains.
A writer and a photographer, Whittaker’s work has appeared in Powder, The Ski Journal and Backcountry. He lives in Bellingham and is a seasonal U.S. Forest Service climbing ranger on Mount Baker. (Visit him online at leifwhittaker.com.
About the presentations
Traveler’s Journal is a presentation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition. All of the money raised is used to buy project supplies and food for volunteers working on Olympic Discovery Trail projects.
Shows start at 7 p.m. in the Sequim High School Library at 601 N. Sequim Ave.
Suggested donation is $5 for adults; those 18 years old and younger are free.
One selected photo enlargement will be given away each week as a door prize.
For more information, email Arvo Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.