Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Everest climber talks from experience

Greg Wilson finds new challenge as a teacher

Express Staff Writer

Greg Wilson surrounded by Wood River Middle School students. Photo by Tony Evans

Local big mountain climber Greg Wilson speaks from experience.

He'll use that experience this month during the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the American Himalayan Foundation and the book launch of "Himalaya: Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge and Hope" at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m.

Wilson has seen the top of Mt. Everest twice and has guided climbers on all seven continents to summits of their own during his 22 years as a professional climbing guide.

This year marks the beginning of a new career challenge for this elite climber, one for which he hopes his days in the thin air of the world's tallest peaks have prepared him. Wilson teaches English to eighth graders at the Wood River Middle School. He is also an accomplished writer and appeared in the PBS film, "Winds of Everest," as well as the 1989 American Kangchenjunga Expedition, "Everest Ten on Top," the 1991 American Expedition and "Everest Dreams." His articles have appeared locally in Sun Valley magazine.

"I use the metaphor of climbing when I teach. It's about opening up challenges, teamwork and preparation. I tell my students they can do anything they want to in life if they prepare for it. Writing too isn't just about talent. It's about hard work, and its' about caring," Wilson said.

Wilson has climbed Mt. Ranier in his home state of Washington 111 times. He has guided others to the tops of peaks in Russia, Bolivia, Africa and the Himalayas. He was a member of the first American team to ever summit the north face of Everest in 1991.

"I wanted to do something more meaningful in life but in a different way, so I started teaching. The most valuable parts of an expedition for me always happened before the summit: the people you meet and the friendships you make," said Wilson. "The Himalayas are full of mountain people. You could say we are only mountain visitors when we are there, but we are all drinking out of the same springs and waterfalls that come down off of the mountains."

"The American Himalayan Foundation has given back to the people of the Himalayas in many ways," said Wilson. "I guess you could say I am doing my part right here. I try to bring awareness to kids about other cultures. The world needs a lot of tolerance for diversity right now. In some ways teaching is more challenging than guiding. I mean the weather is stable in the classroom, and there is an indoor bathroom, but that's about it. At the end of the day I am really tired."

Tickets are $15 at the door and are available at Chapter One Bookstore.

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