Cover image for A life on the edge : memoirs of Everest and beyond
A life on the edge : memoirs of Everest and beyond
Whittaker, Jim, 1929-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Seattle, WA : Mountaineers, 1999.
Physical Description:
271 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps (some color) ; 24 cm
General Note:
Published simultaneously in Great Britain.

Includes index.
Exposure -- Risk -- Apprenticeship -- Bigger, faster, higher -- Falling -- Everest -- Climbing with the Kennedys -- Roller coaster -- New heights -- Reprise -- Cutting loose -- Rock bottom -- The summit on the summit -- Life well lived.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV199.92.W464 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



One of the twentieth century's great adventurers recounts his life and experiences, from being the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest to sailing around the world with his family.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Armchair alpinists will perk up for the memoir of Whittaker, America's well-known and first Everest summiteer in 1963, whereas the peril of K2 pierces Haberl's account of the first Canadian ascent of that peak in 1993. Haberl's story style--one piton after another--is unexceptional for the genre, but exceptional for the subject: K2, reputedly the most technically difficult status symbol in the mountaineering world. Only about 100 people have touched its top; one-third as many have died in the attempt--including one member of Haberl's party, part of a death toll of five in 1993. That knowledge subdues the text, but not the pictures, which are magnificently jagged panoramas under blue-black skies. The physical layout of the book is attractive as well, appealing to soft-core interests by illustrating basic gear, Pakistani porters, and the Karakoram Range, over which K2 towers. Whittaker's recollections emphasize the technicalities of mountaineering over its deadly attractions. Before he became famous, he had become reputable as a guide and rescuer on Rainier and Denali in the 1950s, lucky to return alive to the climbing equipment co-op he built up in Seattle. Thus prominent in the then tiny climbing community, he was recruited for the National Geographic Society's Everest expedition, which he chronicles matter-of-factly, its deaths and "firsts" alike. Now famous, Whittaker came to RFK's attention: JFK's avatar wished to climb the peak Canada had named in his slain brother's memory and asked Whittaker to guide him. They became friends, Whittaker stumping for RFK until the second Kennedy tragedy returned him to business, and to the Himalaya as leader of three expeditions. Two must-have titles for mavens of mountains. --Gilbert Taylor

Table of Contents

Edward M. Kennedy and John GlennJim WhittakerTom Hornbein
Forewordsp. 9
Prefacep. 12
Acknowledgmentsp. 14
Introductionp. 15
Chapter 1 Exposurep. 19
Chapter 2 Riskp. 33
Chapter 3 Apprenticeshipp. 51
Chapter 4 Bigger, Faster, Higherp. 63
Chapter 5 Fallingp. 75
Chapter 6 Everestp. 87
Chapter 7 Climbing With the Kennedysp. 121
Chapter 8 Roller Coasterp. 141
Chapter 9 New Heightsp. 155
Chapter 10 Reprisep. 177
Chapter 11 Cutting Loosep. 203
Chapter 12 Rock Bottomp. 215
Chapter 13 The Summit on the Summitp. 233
Chapter 14 Life Well Livedp. 261
Indexp. 267