You just can't keep a good mountaineer down: Ed Viesturs, the first American to summit all 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, will attempt to summit Everest this year with an all-star mountaineering team that also includes Peter Whittaker, Dave Hahn, and a host of other leading mountain men.
How do we know this isn't some crazy rumor? Because BACKPACKER's Editor-in-Chief Jon Dorn and Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter just spent a day last week backcountry skiing with Viesturs, Hahn, and Peter, Jim, and Lou Whittaker in the Sawtooths of Idaho. (Lucky swine.)
“Kristin and I had the great privilege to spend the weekend with a veritable who’s who of American climbing royalty," Dorn says. "Between Ed Viesturs, Jim, Lou, and Pete Whittaker, and Dave Hahn, the guides in the room had 17 Everest summits and 1500 Rainier summits under their belts.
"This is the true braintrust of the American mountaineering community—three generations of Everest climbers. To spend a few days talking gear, trading stories, and skiing with those guys was the outdoor equivalent of mingling with Hollywood celebrity—only far cooler.”
What brought Viesturs out of retirement? Eddie Bauer, of all things: The apparel company is launching a new brand of comprehensive technical mountaineering gear, including tents, clothes, and even knives. Viesturs, Whittaker, and Hahn, along with mountaineering legends Jim and Lou Whittaker, all had a hand in designing Eddie Bauer's new outdoor gear.
“It’s great to see Eddie Bauer getting back to its outdoor roots—from the 50s until the 80s, the company was one of the major outfitters for the top American mountaineering expeditions," Dorn says. "In fact, Jim Whittaker wore an Eddie Bauer down jacket and pants the day he became the first American to summit Everest."
"Backpacker gear editor Kristin Hostetter and I got a full line presentation this weekend in Sun Valley, Idaho, plus a chance to try select pieces of clothing during a daylong ski tour, and our impression is that EB is taking a solid, comprehensive approach to tackling modern mountaineering gear. Everything, from tents to shells to knives, seems to focus on getting as light, efficient, and functional as possible. We have a number of the new products in hand for testing and will be reporting on our field testing in the months to come.”
In the coming weeks, look out for our exclusive interviews with Viesturs, Hahn, and the Whittakers, plus videos and photos of their ski adventure right here on BACKPACKER.com.