Friday, November 15, 2013

2013 Willi Unsoeld Seminar Presents "High and Hallowed: Everest 1963"

Above: Lightening up the evening at a 50th Anniversary of Americans on Everest event in San Francisco in February 2013, sponsored by The American Alpine Club and Eddie Bauer, Willi Unsoeld is indeed present when Tom Hornbein produces a jar of Unsoeld's mummified toes. Unsoeld lost nine toes after his summit of Mt. Everest.

by Janine Unsoeld

"Risk is the heart of all education." - Willi Unsoeld

A film and discussion about the greatest Himalayan climb in American mountaineering history will be the feature of this year's Willi Unsoeld Seminar Series on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia.

High and Hallowed: Everest 1963 tells the story of Willi Unsoeld and Tom Hornbein's pioneering ascent of the West Ridge of Mt. Everest on May 22, 1963, and examines the commitment and passion that helped them succeed.

Hornbein and Unsoeld were the first to attempt an ascent of the West Ridge. Previously, ascents of the mountain had been made only via the South Col and Southeast Ridge or the North Col and Northeast Ridge. They climbed up the West Ridge and down the Southeast Ridge/South Col route.
This ascent was the first traverse of an 8000 meter peak in the world. Being caught out on the descent resulted in establishing an altitude record for surviving a bivouac at 28,000 feet.
Moderated by Krag Unsoeld, filmmakers David Morton, Jake Norton and Jim Aikman will join Tom Hornbein onstage after the film to discuss the film focusing on the theme of Risk and Uncertainty: Adventures in Life and Learning. This event is free.

Tom Hornbein, a physician and American mountaineer with whom Unsoeld accomplished the first ascent of the West Ridge of Mt. Everest, studied human physiological limits and performance at high altitude. He was professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle from 1978 to 1993. His work and research has resulted in more than 100 journal articles and book chapters.

The Everest climb with Unsoeld is recounted in his classic book, Everest: The West Ridge, published by The Mountaineers.

Jim Aikman, a filmmaker and photographer specializing in adventure film and promotional video. Jim says he "recognizes the need for compelling stories and cutting edge imagery amidst a market saturated with mediocre content, where integrity and innovation sets you apart from your competitor more than ever."

Aikman participated in the six-part TV series "First Ascent," co-produced with National Geographic International and worked as a producer with the Reel Rock Film Tour, which tours in more than 40 countries around the world.

Dave Morton, a professional guide and photographer, has reached the summit of Mt. Everest six times. A long time Northwest mountaineer, he has guided and climbed throughout the Cascades, Andes, the Himalaya, the Altai, Alaska Range, and Caucuses in Russia.

Working as a full-time guide since 2000, Morton has led expeditions to all of the Seven Summits as well as climbs and expeditions in Mongolia, Mexico, Bolivia, and other Himalayan peaks. He has guided to the top of Carstensz Pyramid on the island of Papua on four occasions.

Jake Norton, a world-renowned climber, photographer, filmmaker, philanthropist, and inspirational speaker, has summited Mt. Everest three times and has participated with expeditions on all seven continents. His photography has appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Forbes, and Oprah, while his film footage has been used in documentaries and television series.

In 2011, Norton founded Challenge 21, a multi-year climbing and fundraising project dedicated to the global water crisis, and its solutions. To date, Norton has launched four Challenge 21 expeditions, and has raised over $250,000 for his non-profit partner, Water For People.

Willi Unsoeld was a philosopher, educator, mountaineer and founding faculty member at The Evergreen State College. His climbs included a first ascent in 1960 of Masherbrum, 25,660 feet, and served as an in-country director of the Peace Corps in Nepal in 1963. He served as executive vice-president for Outward Bound to help spread its philosophy of adventure, risk and learning for three years prior to joining the planning faculty at The Evergreen State College.

As a founding faculty member of The Evergreen State College, Unsoeld embodied the spirit of the new institution: its emphasis on student-directed learning, interdisciplinary programs, collaboration and personal responsibility.

The Unsoeld Seminar series is endowed as a living memorial to Willi Unsoeld, whose spirit continues to influence and guide people every day. The Unsoeld Seminar series is endowed as a living memorial to Unsoeld's interests in wilderness and human values, ethics and human behavior, effective learning and experiential education, philosophy and environmental awareness, nature and culture.

Since 1986, the series has offered lectures, workshops and performances that engage and involve participants, and reflect Evergreen's emphasis on collaboration and personal responsibility.

To be sure, the event will generate inspiration, and more questions than answers.
For more information about the Willi Unsoeld Seminar, contact Janine Unsoeld at or (360) 791-7736 or Krag Unsoeld at, (360) 250-9982.
Above: Mt. Everest 1963 Living Legends, left to right, Tom Hornbein, Norman Gunter Dyhrenfurth, David Dingman, and Jim Whittaker in February 2013.