Renowned high-altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs, the only American climber to successfully reach the summits of all the world’s 14 8,000-meter peaks (without supplemental oxygen!) will speak to Crane Country Day School students during the school’s morning assembly on Wednesday.
“The mountain decides whether you climb or not. The art of mountaineering is knowing when to go, when to stay and when to retreat,” Viesturs has said, a life lesson that he will share with Crane Country Day School’s 250 students.
Endeavor 8000, Viesturs’ 18-year quest to climb the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains, earned Viesturs the historic Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club for outstanding achievement in the field of mountaineering. In winning the award, he joined an elite group of climbers including Sir Edmund Hillary.
Viesturs regards himself as a conservative climber and has said he’s not averse to turning back if conditions are too severe. In fact, Viesturs was once just 300 feet from the crest of Mount Everest when he retreated.
His intuition and cautious approach have made Viesturs one of the most successful Himalayan climbers in American history. All told, he’s completed 29 Himalayan expeditions and stood atop Mount Everest seven times.
Viesturs climbs without benefit of an oxygen tank, which he says can be burdensome and potentially troublesome. Only a superior conditioned athlete can scale heights above 25,000 feet without artificial oxygen. Viesturs attributes his achievements to extensive preparation (physical and strategic) and staying true to one’s values, a lesson he is likely to share with students.
Viesturs will also talk about the importance of teamwork and perseverance, something that Crane mom Amy Wendel experienced firsthand when she climbed with Viesturs several years ago.
Viesturs lectures around the world and is the bestselling author of numerous books, including No Shortcuts to the Top and K2. His most recent, The Will to Climb, documents his attempts to climb Annapurna, the 10th highest — but most deadly — mountain in the world.
Crane Country Day School thanks parents Gil and Janet Friesen, Viesturs’ longtime friends, for arranging this memorable visit.
— Ann Pieramici represents Crane Country Day School.