Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Explore the ‘bottom of the world’

Guide Peter Whittaker to share Antarctica experience

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Peter Whittaker explores “the bottom of the world.”

"It was cold," said Peter Whittaker about his most recent Antarctica trip.

Whittaker, 52, is co-owner of Rainier Mountaineering, the largest guide service in the U.S. He will give a presentation on his trip to Antarctica on Thursday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Community School Theatre in Sun Valley. The presentation is in conjunction with Zenergy Health Club and Spa in Ketchum. Tickets for the slide show presentation are $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers, and are available at Zenergy and The Elephant's Perch. For details, call 725-0595.

Whittaker has been a mountain guide for more than 25 years, and is part of a family of American mountaineers. He's led more than 70 expeditions on all seven continents. Among his many achievements, in 1995 he organized Expedition Inspiration and led a group of breast-cancer survivors to the summit of Mount Aconcagua, in the Andes in western Argentina and the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, raising $2.3 million for breast-cancer research.

On his trip to Antarctica in January, Whittaker was joined by climber and part-time valley resident Ed Viesturs. Viesturs began guiding on Rainier in 1982 and has participated in 30 Himalayan expeditions since 1987. Whittaker had explored the interior of Antarctica more than a decade ago, and returned with clients and Eddie Bauer's First Ascent team members.

Viesturs is perhaps America's premier high-altitude mountaineer. He was the first American and the fifth person to summit all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks, all without the use of supplemental oxygen. Whittaker and Viesturs live several months out of the year in the Wood River Valley.

"It was 45 years ago Eddie Bauer first came to Antarctica," Whittaker said. "Here we were again with Eddie Bauer in 2011 with the First Ascent Team."

The presentation will include photos, video and many stories about Whittaker's return to the bottom of the world.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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