VIDEOS: Lou Whittaker speaks to 110 at alma mater West Seattle High School

June 9th, 2014

[This 46-minute video covers Lou Whittaker’s presentation, courtesy of contributor Mark Jaroslaw of Avenue Productions.]


West Seattle native Lou Whittaker credited his hometown’s physical beauty and ruggedness and strong sense of community for his successful career as a mountaineer and guide during a two-hour presentation Monday evening, May 19, at his alma mater, West Seattle High School.

Whittaker, 85, spoke to a crowd of 110 gathered in the school’s theater. The event was a fundraiser for our historical society.

Lou Whittaker pauses before taking the stage at the West Seattle High School Theater. (Photo by Lisseth Guel)

Lou Whittaker pauses before taking the stage at the West Seattle High School Theater. (Photo by Lisseth Guel)

In a speech and question-answer session that bracketed the showing of a 52-minute 2013 documentary “A Life in the Mountains,” Whittaker told fond stories about his (and his twin brother Jim’s) long uphill walks in their boyhood neighborhood of Fauntleroy, along with his scaling of the human-made Schurman Rock in Camp Long and his Boy Scout experiences in West Seattle.

Lou Whittaker signs books following his presentation. (Photo by Lisseth Guel)

Lou Whittaker signs books following his presentation. (Photo by Lisseth Guel)

Whittaker described the intricacies of building a team of climbers, based on his ascents of Mount Everest and his favorite peak, Mount Rainier (he lives nearby in the town of Ashford during spring and summer months).

He also encouraged adults in the audience, and their children, to make “health deposits” by walking and bicycling, the same as people make deposits of money in a bank.

North Seattle resident Laszlo Pal, Emmy Award-winning director of “A Life in the Mountains,” also attended and spoke about the production.

Following the presentation, Whittaker autographed copies of his book, Memoirs of a Mountain Guide, and of the DVD of the documentary for those who purchased them. A portion of proceeds from the book and DVD sales went to our historical society.

Big thanks to the volunteers who made it possible for us to put on such a warmly received event:

Bethany Green, volunteer coordinator.

Kelly and Brian Hight, who filmed a promotional video and designed the event flier.

Lisseth Guel, South Seattle College student who photographed the event.

Mark Jaroslaw, contributing videographer.

Ann Anderson, Deanna Armstrong, Frances Gifford, Inez Lindsey, Nancy McPhee and Floie Vane, who greeted and guided attendees and processed donations.

We deeply appreciate the audiovisual guidance of West Seattle High School students Tony Ventimiglia and Connor Grisset.

In addition, we are grateful to our media sponsor, Robinson Newspapers, publisher of Westside Weekly, an amalgamation of the West Seattle Herald, Ballard News-Tribune and Highline Times/Des Moines News.

And the biggest thanks of all go to Lou and his wife, Ingrid, for undertaking this event out of the goodness of their hearts!

5 Responses to “VIDEOS: Lou Whittaker speaks to 110 at alma mater West Seattle High School”

  1. Ralph Gilson says:

    I am sorry to say that I missed the presentation of Lou Whittaker on Mon.May 19th.But as luck would have it,and miracles do happen, I was so fortunate to be at the right place at the right time the morning after. I decided to have breakfast at Endolyne Joe’s and the waitress seated me at the table right next to,would you believe it, Mr. Lou Whittaker and his guests. I was so totally not prepared for this! He happened to notice the scar on my knee and having been through two knee replacements himself, he had to inquire about mine. And so the conversation began! I will be forever grateful and hold dear to my heart for this chance meeting !

  2. Georgie Bright Kunkel says:

    Whittaker has exemplified my family’s outdoor spirit. My brother Norman Bright climbed all the mountains in Washington State, the tallest mountain in Italy and climbed Mt. Marcus Baker in Alaska, the first ascent ever.
    He also held the two mile track record in the 1930s in this country. He considered Mt. Rainier his mountain since he climbed it so often. Several of our family climbed Mt. Rainier but my only claim to mountain climbing was climbing Mt. Baker when I attended WWU.

    There is nothing so beautiful as Mt. Baker reflected in the mountain lake below. I no longer climb but I can enjoy Mt. Rainier out my window at home these days.

    Everest, however, will always be the mountain to test a climber’s endurance, at least if the climber has enough Sherpas to help in the process.

    • Clay Eals says:

      Thank you for your articulate and affectionate response, Georgie!

      • Flora Belle Key says:

        Back in town after China-Burma-India ex-pilots reunion in Nashville, where Cal Bannon is the eldest of the honorees.
        How lucky I was to grow up with the Whitaker twins, thus volunteering to introduce Lou @ our beloved Alma Mater recently. What a wonderful guy; thanx to everyone who attended.

        • Clay Eals says:

          Thanks for your update, Flora Belle, and for introducing Lou at the May 19 event. It was a magical evening, in part due to the tone that you set!

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