Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Without oxygen, Ed Viesturs reaches Everestís summit

Self-described mountain addict Ed Viesturs is relatively new to the Ketchum and Sun Valley area, having moved here recently. But he's an old-timer on the 29,035-foot Mt. Everest in the Himalayan mountains.

Viesturs, 49, five weeks shy of his 50th birthday, was one of five members of the Everest Expedition Team to reach the summit on Tuesday, May 19.

The others, all of them reported safe and in high spirits, were expedition leader Peter Whittaker, photographer Jake Norton, camera operator John Griber and head of production Gerry Moffatt.

For Viesturs, a 1981 University of Washington graduate who was the first American to summit all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks, Tuesday's summit ascent was his seventh of Everest. He was the only one in the party to do it without supplemental oxygen.

His mountaineering goal has been to climb the world's 14 highest peaks without oxygen.

The 2009 Everest Expedition RMI Guides team arrived in Kathmandu March 27 and started its acclimatization treks March 29 from Phakding, located at elevation 8,700. By Day 16, they were at the 17,575-foot Everest Base Camp and spent 42 days there.

The news of Tuesday's summit climb came 56 years after the first ascent of Mt. Everest, 46 years after the first American ascent and 31 years after the first oxygenless ascent. Viesturs, of Latvian and German descent, made his first climb at Mount St. Helens in 1977. In 2007, he summitted Mt. Rainier for the 200th time.

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