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  • Author: Jim Whittaker
  • Hardcover; 318 pages; color photographs
  • The Mountaineers Books; copyright: 2013
  • Updated edition celebrates the 50th anniversary of Whittaker's Everest ascent, includes a new foreword by Ed Viesturs, more than 100 color photos, and a new afterword
  • Read about his formative years climbing and guiding with his twin brother Lou in Washington, Colorado and Alaska
  • Join in the adventure as he becomes the first North American to reach the summit of Everest
  • Learn about his unexpected celebrity status upon returning home from Everest that led to an intimate relationship with the Kennedy family
  • Follow the growth of R.E.I. with Jim as the first employee, manager and ultimately the CEO through early years of record growth
  • Also tells of experiences later in life as a leader of expeditions to K2 and Everest and the historical first ascent of Mount Kennedy


In May of 1963, Seattle mountaineer Jim Whittaker stepped into world history by becoming the first American to summit Mount Everest. 50 years later, he is still regarded as a seminal figure in North American mountaineering, as well as an astute businessman who helped create the outdoor recreation industry.

A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond is Jim's courageous, no-punches-pulled autobiography and a look at an itinerant, sometimes difficult life. Beyond the glory of the Everest summit and his other extraordinary climbing feats, including the first American summit of K2, he openly describes his personal, everyman experience of social upheaval in the 1960s and ‘70s, an early divorce, family strife, a passionate new love later in life, his brush with bankruptcy, and business triumphs and losses. Jim tells it all with verve and honesty and, true to his nature, turns every setback into the stage for new adventure. This special edition, published on the 50th anniversary of Whittaker's successful ascent of Everest, celebrates the story of Jim's life and features a new foreword by Ed Viesturs. Also includes a new afterword that brings readers up to date on Whittaker's life, including details of his trek to Everest Base Camp in 2012 and his son Leif's recent successful summits of Everest.

REI membership


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