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Ed Viesturs, America's Leading High Altitude Mountaineer, Coming to Doane

Moutaineer Ed ViestursOn Nov. 17, the audience in Doane's Heckman Auditorium will hear words of inspiration from a man who has climbed all 14 of the world's highest mountains without the use of supplemental oxygen - the first American and one of a few in the world to accomplish this rare feat. 

Ed Viesturs, called America's leading high altitude mountaineer, will share the story of his 16-year journey to achieve his goal at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 on the Crete campus. The event is free and open to the public, presented by Doane's Hansen Leadership Program. Viesturs' talk at Doane is the result of a generous gift from Rick and Wanda Gibson. Mr. Gibson is a Doane graduate and member of the college's board of trustees.

Viesturs has climbed Mount Everest seven times and played a pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air."  Viesturs was part of an IMAX expedition filming during the tragic event, a single day of the 1996 climbing season when eight people died on Mount Everest during summit attempts. A bottleneck of more than 30 climbers attempting to summit on the same day, climbers reaching the summit past the safe turnaround hour and a blizzard combined to take their lives. Viesturs lost two of his dearest friends and fellow climbers. He was in radio contact with one of his friends during his friend's last hours. The IMAX group postponed shooting to aid the stranded climbers. Later that month, Viesturs continued the climb and the group completed the IMAX project.

In his 27 years of climbing, Viesturs has been interviewed by National Geographic and graced the cover of Outside Magazine. He put together an astounding résumé as he climbed the world's 14 mountains above 8,000 meters and developed a reputation as one of the most cautious, yet courageous climbers.

His unyielding motto: "Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory."

He bested such challenges as Annapurna, a peak that at times has claimed the life of one climber for every two who reached its summit.

"For me, how I reach the top is more important than whether I do," Viesturs writes in his book "No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks."

He is famous not only for his mountain climbing, but his lectures and media appearances. He was a guest on the Daily Show in 2006 and the Colbert Report in 2007. Along with David Roberts, he published the book "K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain."

For more information on the Doane presentation, contact Carrie Petr, director of the Hansen Leadership Program at 402.826.8271.