Around this time each year, the world's highest mountain starts making news again. From mid-April through late May, a small window of opportunity appears for those willing to risk it all by climbing the mountain known in Nepal as Sagarmāthā and in Tibet as Chomolungma. We know it as Mount Everest, and very few know the mountain as well as East High School graduate, and one of the world's most respected mountaineers, Ed Viesturs.

Ed Viesturs was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but raised here in Rockford. It was in Rockford, as a high school student, that Ed was introduced to French mountaineer Maurice Herzog's book "Annapurna," which told the tale of Herzog's 1950 climb of one of the 14 Himalayan Mountains that peak at 8,000 meters (26,246.7 feet) or higher. Herzog's feat was the first successful ascent of one of those peaks. Mount Everest itself wasn’t (officially) summited until three years later by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Ed Viesturs eventually relocated to Seattle, Washington, where he enrolled at the University of Washington, and began his career as a mountaineer with one of North America's highest peaks, Mount Rainier (which he has summited a mind-blowing 208 times).

In addition to summiting Mount Everest 7 times, Ed is the first American, and 12th person overall, to summit all of the "Eight Thousanders." The Eight Thousanders are 14 mountains in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges in Asia with peaks above 8000 meters (26,247 feet). He's even traveled to the bottom of the world to climb Antarctica's tallest mountain, Vinson Massif.  In 2005, Ed Viesturs was awarded National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year.

Did I mention that unlike most mountaineers, Ed has accomplished all of that without using supplemental oxygen? It's true.

Here's Ed Viesturs discussing Mount Everest:

And, if you've got a few minutes, you'll want to check out National Geographic's outstanding profile of Ed Viesturs:



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