Lou Whittaker

Last updated
Lou Whittaker
Lou Whittaker on Mt. Rainier.jpg
Whittaker (left) in 1996 on Mount Rainier
Born (1929-02-10) February 10, 1929 (age 90)
Occupation Mountaineer

Lou Whittaker (born February 10, 1929) [1] is a mountaineer and glacier-travel guide. Whittaker and his twin brother, Jim, were born and raised in Seattle. [2]

Jim Whittaker American mountaineer

James W. Whittaker, also known as Jim Whittaker, is an American mountaineer and mountain guide. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, on May 1, 1963 he became the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest as a member of the American Mount Everest Expedition led by Norman Dyhrenfurth, alongside the Sherpa Nawang Gombu. They ran out of oxygen but managed to reach the summit. Once there, Whittaker planted a U.S. flag at the top.

Seattle City in Washington, United States

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 730,000 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area’s population stands at 3.87 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the Top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

Besides his worldwide climbing experience, Whittaker became the most experienced guide for climbing Mount Rainier with over 250 summits and established Rainier Mountaineering, developed a group of successful climbing-related businesses at the Rainier Base Camp in Ashford, adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park, and led the training of several generations of Rainier guides, many of whom continue to guide and climb elsewhere. He also led the first American ascent of the North Col of Mount Everest in 1984. [3]

Mount Rainier stratovolcano in the U.S. state of Washington

Mount Rainier, also known as Tahoma or Tacoma, is a large active stratovolcano located 59 miles (95 km) south-southeast of Seattle, in the Mount Rainier National Park. With a summit elevation of 14,411 ft (4,392 m), it is the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington, and of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, it is the most topographically prominent mountain in the continental United States and the first in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

RMI Expeditions, also known as Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (RMI), is a mountain guide company based in Ashford, Washington. It leads mountaineering trips on Mt. Rainier and the Seven Summits as well as ski mountaineering and ice climbing trips. The company was founded in 1969 by Jerry Lynch and Lou Whittaker.

Ashford, Washington CDP in Washington, United States

Ashford is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pierce County, Washington, United States. The population was 217 as of the 2010 census. Located just a few miles west of the main entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, it features numerous shops and accommodations for visitors. The surrounding mountains and narrow Nisqually River valley are heavily forested.

He has recorded his experiences in Lou Whittaker - Memoirs of a Mountain Guide, written with Andrea Gabbard.

Related Research Articles

Mountaineering sport of mountain climbing

Mountaineering is the set of activities that involves ascending mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, hiking, skiing, and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are usually considered mountaineering as well.

Fred Beckey American mountain climber

Friedrich Wolfgang Beckey, known as Fred Beckey, was an American rock climber, mountaineer and author, who made hundreds of first ascents, more than any other North American climber. A documentary film on his life, Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, premiered in 2017.

Willi Unsoeld American mountaineer

Willi Unsoeld was an American mountaineer who, along with Tom Hornbein, were members of the first American expedition to summit Mount Everest on May 22, 1963. Unsoeld and Hornbein's legendary climb was the first ascent from the peak's west ridge, and the first major traverse of a Himalayan peak. His subsequent activities included working as a U.S. Forest Service Smokejumper, Peace Corps director in Nepal, speaker for Outward Bound, faculty member at Oregon State University and The Evergreen State College and mountaineering guide. An avalanche during a winter climb of Mount Rainier took his life.

Reinhold Messner Italian mountaineer, adventurer and explorer

Reinhold Messner is an Italian mountaineer, adventurer, explorer, and author from the trilingual Italian province of South Tyrol.

Norman Clyde American mountain climber

Norman Clyde was a mountaineer, mountain guide, freelance writer, nature photographer, and self trained naturalist. He is well known for achieving over 130 first ascents, many in California's Sierra Nevada and Montana's Glacier National Park. He also set a speed climbing record on California's Mount Shasta in 1923. The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley has 1467 articles written by Clyde in its archives.

Ed Viesturs American mountain climber

Edmund Viesturs is a high-altitude mountaineer and corporate speaker. He is the only American to have climbed all 14 of the world's eight-thousander mountain peaks, and the fifth person to do so without using supplemental oxygen. Along with Apa Sherpa, he has summitted peaks of over 8,000 meters on 21 occasions, including Mount Everest seven times; only four other climbers, Phurba Tashi Sherpa Mendewa, Juanito Oiarzabal, Namgyal Sherpa, and Ang Dorje Sherpa, have more high-altitude ascents.

Marty Hoey was a mountaineer who took part in a 1982 expedition to Mount Everest. During an attempted ascent that would have made her the first American woman to summit Everest, she plunged over the edge of the Great Couloir to her death, as the result of an unsecured climbing harness.

The Mountaineers (club) outdoor recreation, education, and conservation club, non-profit organized, based in Seattle, Washington

The Mountaineers is an alpine club serving the state of Washington. Founded in 1906, it is organized as an outdoor recreation, education, and conservation 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and is based in Seattle, Washington. The Mountaineers host a wide range of outdoor activities, primarily alpine mountain climbing and hikes. The club also hosts classes, training courses, and social events.

Lincoln Ross Hall OAM was a veteran Australian mountain climber, adventurer, author and philanthropist. Hall was part of the first Australian expedition to climb Mount Everest in 1984, which successfully forged a new route, and he reached the summit of the mountain on his second attempt in 2006, surviving the night at 8,700 m (28,543 ft) on descent.

Nawang Gombu was a Nepali-Indian mountaineer of Nepalese Sherpa origin.

Dave Hahn American climber

David Allen Hahn is an American professional mountain guide, ski patroller, journalist and lecturer. In May 2013, he reached the summit of Mount Everest for the 15th time - the most for a non-Sherpa climber, according to Outside Magazine contributor and climber Alan Arnette. Among Hahn’s other notable accomplishments are his 35 summits of Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s highest mountain. He has reached the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest peak, 21 times over the course of 30 expeditions.

Dee Molenaar is an American mountaineer, author and artist from Tacoma, Washington. He is best known as the author of The Challenge of Rainier, first published in 1971 and considered the definitive work on the climbing history of Mount Rainier.

Mountaineers 5 Peak Pin

Mountaineers 5 Peak Pin is the name of a mountaineering challenge in Washington State, United States. The five peaks that make up the challenge, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Mount Olympus, and Glacier Peak range from easy to moderate climbing difficulty. The highest peak of the Pin is Mount Rainier, and the least prominent is the heavily glaciated Mount Olympus. Expert Climbers like Jim Whittaker and Ed Viesturs pioneered the 5 peak Pin, which is now a popular first challenge for aspiring climbers.

Melissa Arnot Reid is an American mountaineer. She has climbed to the summit of Mount Everest six times.

Garrett Madison American mountain climber

Garrett Madison is an American mountaineer and guide. Madison began guiding professionally in 1999 on Mount Rainier, and his company, Madison Mountaineering, specializes in climbs on Mount Everest and other high altitude peaks, operates on the highest peaks on all seven continents, and also provides training programs and summit climbs in Washington State. On May 19–20, 2011, he reached the summit of Mt Everest on his fourth successful attempt as expedition leader and guide for Alpine Ascents International, and reached the summit of Lhotse 21 hours later as guide to climber Tom Halliday. Also on the expedition was guide Michael Horst who made both summits as well in under a 24-hour period, a few days earlier. This was the first time that both Everest and Lhotse were summited together in less than 24 hours, and Madison repeated the "double header" feat again in 2013, the only person to do so twice. In 2014, Madison led the first successfully guided ascent of K2, reaching the summit with two climbers and three Sherpas on July 27, 2014. On 22 July 2018, Madison successfully led a team of 24 to the summit of K2 and became the first American to summit K2 more than once. Madison also regularly guides many "7 Summits" expeditions such as Carstensz Pyramid, Aconcagua, Vinson Massif, Kilimanjaro and Elbrus during the year.

Ang Dorje Sherpa Mountain climber

Ang Dorje (Chhuldim) Sherpa is a Nepali sherpa mountaineering guide, climber and porter from Pangboche, Nepal, who has climbed to the summit of Mount Everest 19 times. He was the climbing Sirdar for Rob Hall's Adventure Consultants expedition to Everest in spring 1996, when a freak storm led to the deaths of eight climbers from several expeditions, considered one of the worst disasters in the history of Everest mountaineering.

Alma Wagen American mountain climber

Alma Wagen was an American mountain guide on Mount Rainier. She was the first female guide employed by Mount Rainier National Park.

Qudrat Ali

Qudrat Ali is a Pakistani mountaineer. He is also the co-founder and instructor in Shimshal Mountaineering School, and is a member of the Alpine Club.


  1. "Lou Whittaker A mountaineering pioneer". TheNewsTribune.com. 2008-03-27.[ permanent dead link ]
  2. "Brothers synonymous with mountain climbing in Northwest". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. March 13, 1983. p. 43.