It can be challenging growing up with a famous mountain climbing father, as readers will find in the new book “My Old Man and the Mountain” by Leif Whittaker.
Whittaker is the son of Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt. Everest in 1963, and author of the book about growing up in a family that expected him to follow in his father’s footsteps. Whittaker will give a multimedia presentation about the book and his own mountain climbing expeditions on Sunday, April 23, at 7 p.m. at Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St.
“It’s a fun book,” Back of Beyond Books owner Andy Nettell said. “I featured it on the KZMU book club. It was a fun exploration of mountain climbing … Leif had no strong interest in mountain climbing; he was dragged up and down mountains. But at some point, he was introduced to Eddie Bauer and invited to join an expedition to climb Mt. Everest.”
Part of the deal was that he would take his aging mom and dad to the base camp.
It was a touching part of the book and when Whittaker really understood what his dad had accomplished in 1963, Nettell said.
The younger Whittaker went on to summit Mt. Everest twice – that’s one more time than his father did, he’s quick to mention. While summiting the mountain in 2012, Whittaker carried his father’s journal – the handwritten notes from his 1963 expedition.
“It’s a father-son story about growing up in the shadow of Jim Whittaker,” Leif Whittaker said. “It’s humorous – I make fun of myself and my family.”
When his mother read the book, her response to her son was, “I think it’s very brave,” Whittaker said. Nervous, about what she meant exactly, he waited for his father’s response, which was “I loved it; I laughed, I cried. I learned things about you I didn’t know.”
The April 23 presentation will include 100 slides of Mt. Everest and of growing up in the Whittaker family in Port Townsend, Washington. Whittaker will show contrasts of the 1963 expedition and his own trips in 2010 and 2012. Modern images and film segments will be compared to what it used to be like climbing the mountain more than 50 years ago.
Whittaker will do a short reading from the book, tell stories, answer questions afterward and sign books.
“I usually get a few laughs,” he said. “I’ve had a great response, so far.”
“My Old Man and the Mountain” is available at many independent bookshops such as Back of Beyond, as well as Barnes and Noble Booksellers and REI stores.
Whittaker lives in Bellingham, Washington, where he attended Western Washington University, and was recognized as the Outstanding Graduate of the Year in the English Department, the highest honor bestowed upon an undergraduate student.
According to his website, Whittaker is a climbing ranger for the U.S. Forest Service on Mt. Baker, where he spends summers protecting a pristine wilderness and keeping visitors on the glacier safe.
Leif Whittaker writes about growing up in the shadow of famed mountain climber
“It’s a father-son story about growing up in the shadow of Jim Whittaker … It’s humorous – I make fun of myself and my family.”
Where: Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St.
When: Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m.
Information: www.leifwhittaker.com; www.backofbeyondbooks.com; 435-259-5154
For more information, go to: www.backofbeyondbooks.com, or call 435-259-5154.