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Anne Elk
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Anne Elk
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PostWed Mar 27, 2024 1:49 pm 
Lou Whittaker, legendary mountaineer and Rainier guide, dead at 95 The Seattle Times, 3/27/2024 By Lauren Girgis and Vonnai Phair Lou Whittaker, a Seattle-born and -raised mountaineer and glacier travel guide who climbed Mount Rainier more than 250 times, died Sunday at 95. His nephew, Leif Whittaker, on Wednesday morning confirmed Lou’s death. He died peacefully surrounded by family, Leif Whittaker said. As the co-founder of Rainier Mountaineering Inc., now known as RMI Expeditions, Whittaker spent decades teaching and guiding thousands of people to the majestic, 14,410-foot summit. Whittaker’s son, Peter, now owns the business. Lou Whittaker himself had also climbed dozens of giant, difficult peaks across the world — Denali, Everest, K2 and Kanchenjunga among many others — surviving multiple avalanches along the way. His identical twin brother, Jim, was the first American to scale Mount Everest. Sometimes called “The First Family of American Mountaineering,” the Whittaker twins began mountain rescue work in the Washington Cascades in 1948. Lou started climbing with Jim at age 12 and they first summitted Mount Rainier at age 16. When the twins returned from the mountain, they found Seattle in the midst of celebration: World War II had ended. By 18, Lou Whittaker had climbed all the major peaks in Washington. The brothers quickly built a reputation as being among the most skilled climbers in the Pacific Northwest. After his brother gained international fame for becoming the first American to climb Everest in 1963, Lou — who had declined to join the expedition — said if he had, “Fifty feet from the top, we’d have wrestled there in the snow to see who’d be the first up.” The twins taught climbing skills in the Rockies during the Korean War to an elite group of soldiers — the 10th Mountain Division. In 1969, Lou helped form Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. Lou’s vision for the company was to establish a guide service dedicated to teaching climbers, going beyond just leading them to help build skills. In 1984, he led the first successful American summit of the North Col of Mount Everest. In 1989, the adventurer led the first American expedition of 12 climbers up Kanchenjunga, in the Himalayas, the world’s third-highest peak, and got six people to the summit. His career included guiding several politicians and celebrities up Mount Rainier, including John F. Kennedy Jr. (who had to turn around because of a storm on that climb). When an avalanche killed 11 climbers in 1981 as they ascended Mount Rainier, Lou and Jim Whittaker were part of the rescue party. He also served as a product designer and consultant for several outdoor gear companies. Despite his legendary career, Lou’s love of his backyard playground, Mount Rainier, lasted through the decades. During a 2022 interview with Gear Patrol, he said “Rainier has everything that you need for any mountain in the world.” The mountain’s glacial nature makes it more challenging and akin to many of the world’s highest ranges, Lou said several times. Lou and his wife, Ingrid spent their summers in Ashford during their decades-long marriage. Lou’s two sons, Peter and Win, summitted Mount Rainier for the first time at age 12, seven years apart. Between the three of them, they had summitted Rainier nearly 700 times by 2022. When a Times reporter asked Lou “Why do you climb a mountain” in 1989, he replied: “If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand if I told you.” *Note: It's getting harder to get past the ST paywall, but if you can, there are about 20+ great pics w/the article.

"There are yahoos out there. It’s why we can’t have nice things." - Tom Mahood

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PostWed Mar 27, 2024 1:55 pm 
frown.gif rip

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Stefan
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PostThu Mar 28, 2024 8:29 am 
He will be missed in Ashford.

Art is an adventure.
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RumiDude
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RumiDude
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PostThu Mar 28, 2024 4:56 pm 
A grand life of mountaineering and passing peacefully at the age of 95 surrounded by family. RIP indeed. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."

RichP
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