The only Iowan to see the summit of Mount Everest with his own eyes says the adventure was more preparation than perspiration. Twenty-nine-year-old Charlie Wittmack reached the world’s tallest peak in 2003 and he says for every hour he spent training for the endeavor in the field, he spent ten to 20 more hours in the library, learning everything he could about the academic aspect of the demanding deed.
“The next avenue is the physical aspect and when you’re an Iowa mountain climber, you do have to travel,” Wittmack says. “We spent seven years, traveling the world, building skills step by step, first climbing high mountains, then adding snow, then adding glaciers, then adding ice, and then putting all those things together to climb a mountain like Everest.”
Wittmack has just started a career in Des Moines as an attorney. “When I speak with young kids and with adults, what I like to point out and always end with is the fact that we all have a lot of Everests in our life,” he says. “In order to have the most fulfilling life, it’s not to look at your life as having one Everest dream but maybe a Himalaya, a mountain range of achievements, and you just go from one to the next to the next.”
Wittmack is speaking today at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines.