Local author to speak about following famous father’s footsteps up Mt. Everest


Leif Whittaker, climbing ranger, son of the first American to summit Mt. Everest, and author of “My Old Man and the Mountain,” will speak about his book at the Blaine Library from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, October 5.

Whittaker’s memoir, published in 2016, recounts growing up in Port Townsend in the shadow of his legendary father, “Big Jim” Whittaker. That’s an upbringing that involves constant questioning from strangers about whether he has his own ambitions on the world’s tallest mountain. Whittaker chafes at the questioning, but through an unexpected offer, ends up traveling to the Himalayas for an attempt at Everest.

Whittaker brings humor to his telling of challenges big and small. He climbs out of a tent to pee high on Everest and contemplates death after becoming temporarily lost a few steps away in a blizzard, in an example of the latter.

Through the story from childhood to Everest, Whittaker turns over insight into his personal journey, his relationship with his father and the overarching question about why people climb mountains.

Whittaker’s presentation will include photos and film from modern and historic Everest expeditions.

“My Old Man and the Mountain” is Whatcom County Library System’s Read and Share book – a countywide book group that includes events at libraries throughout the library system. The program is part of WCLS’s celebration of its 75th anniversary.

Whittaker lives in Bellingham and works as a seasonal U.S. Forest Service climbing ranger on Mt. Baker.


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