Leif Whittaker first climbed Everest in 2010. This year

Leif Whittaker first climbed Everest in 2010. This year

Peninsula man reportedly days from Everest’s summit

PORT TOWNSEND — Dianne Roberts hasn’t been getting much sleep this week, as her son, Leif Whittaker, climbs Mount Everest for the second time.

“The best thing for me is to stay calm right now,” Roberts said from her Port Townsend home.

“We don’t know when we’ll hear from him, so all we can do is wait.”

Roberts said she didn’t know exactly when the four-member expedition would take another shot at the summit — at 29,029 feet, the tallest in the world — but expected it would be in the next few days.

Whittaker, 27, first climbed Everest in May 2010, following in the footsteps of his father, Jim Whittaker, who in 1963 was the first American to reach the summit.

Roberts said she expected her son would use a satellite phone to call home after he returned from the summit.

“We don’t get any inside information,” Roberts said.

“We are like everyone else: We find out what’s happening from the blog.”

Leif Whittaker’s expedition blog is available at http://tinyurl.com/everestblog.

The most recent entry, dated Thursday, was transcribed from a phone call from expedition leader Dave Hahn.

“We are just about at 8,000 meters [26,246 feet],” he said.

“I hope you can hear me. The winds are beating the stuffing out of our tent fabric right now.”

He said plans had changed.

“It’s not looking like quite the great window of opportunity that we thought it would be,” Hahn said.

“There are a number of teams going for the summit tonight,” he added.

“We may not be starting if the wind is still blowing.

“We are thinking we can wait it out and maybe get some better weather tomorrow.”

But he added that the team was ready to go “if this wind drops and the crowded conditions aren’t too bad.”

Like Leif Whittaker’s last trek up Everest, this expedition is sponsored by Eddie Bauer/First Ascent and has the same guide, Hahn, as in 2010.

This year’s trip is smaller, with four climbers instead of eight, and there is no live blogging as in 2010.

“We are going to concentrate on climbing,” Leif Whittaker said before the trip began.

This year, Jim Whittaker and Roberts gave their son an on-site send-off by flying to Katmandu and hiking up the mountain to nearly 17,000 feet.

Jim Whittaker and Roberts planned to hike up from 10,000 feet to 17,000 feet and back down, but Jim Whittaker contracted what Roberts called “an intestinal problem,” though Jim described it somewhat less delicately.

“Hygiene is always a problem on these expeditions,” Roberts said.

“You can be very careful and still catch something.”

Instead of hiking down to 10,000 feet, Jim Whittaker and Roberts were lifted out by helicopter at 16,000 feet.

They arrived in Port Townsend at the end of April “and have been running around ever since,” Roberts said.

“I have to confess it feels more difficult, sometimes, to be getting up-to-the-minute information than it would knowing nothing at all,” Roberts wrote in a mass email to friends.

“As it is, we’re trying to remain calm, and sending positive thoughts, energy, and love halfway around the world, from sea level to the top of Everest.”

“He’s one up on me,” Jim Whittaker said.

“I’m really proud of him.”


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

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