This morning I opened Facebook and saw the news that fellow Mainer, mountaineer, and author Ed Webster had passed away on Thanksgiving morning. He’s probably most famous for pioneering a new route up Mount Everest in 1988 which he chronicled with words and fascinating imagery in Snow in the Kingdom.
I met Ed a few times over the years. He was incredibly humble and he was someone who you knew right away was a kind and generous soul. The first time I met him was at LL Bean fifteen years ago. He was signing books in the lobby but all the people there that day seemed to be too busy to stop and chat. I got to chat with him for nearly an hour. What struck me most about that first meeting was that he seemed more interested in hearing about where I wanted to climb than he was about telling his stories.
The other thing that I’ll remember about Ed is that he loved history and telling the stories of climbers and explorers of old. To that end, he gave innumerable talks at libraries, schools, and clubs. His rates for speaking at schools were so low that I’m not sure he wasn’t losing money when he gave those talks.
In memory of Ed Webster, here are some resources for teaching and learning about Mount Everest:
To understand the scope of the accomplishment that Ed and his three teammates accomplished in 1988 watch this presentation that he gave at a library a couple of years ago.
Scaling Everest is an infographic that goes beyond the usual scale of Everest comparisons to buildings and jet flight paths. In the infographic you will find audio of three Everest climbers talking about the approach to Everest basecamp and the nuances of the climb itself. The infographic also provides some interesting facts about plants and animals in the region.
I was just dabbling in climbing and dreaming about bigger mountains when Ed wrote that inscription for me in 2007.