Eddie Bauer has partnered with a team of mountaineers to build a new line of outerwear and gear called First Ascent. The team includes reknowned mountain guides and climbers, including Peter Whittaker, Ed Viesturs, and Dave Hahn.
“We've assembled the dream team to design and build the most significant new line of mountaineering gear in a generation,” says Neil Fiske, President and CEO of Eddie Bauer. “It doesn't get any better than Whittaker, Viesturs, Hahn and team.”
The First Ascent Guide Team is led by Peter Whittaker, son of acclaimed mountaineer Lou Whittaker and nephew of Jim Whittaker, who wore Eddie Bauer gear on his historic first American ascent of Everest. Also part of the team is Ed Viesturs, the only American to summit all fourteen 8000-meter peaks without bottled oxygen, and Dave Hahn, who has summited Everest ten times, more than any non-Sherpa. Joining Peter, Ed, and Dave are three accomplished guides from Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI), the largest guide company in the U.S.: Melissa Arnot, Seth Waterfall, and Chad Peele. Lou and Jim Whittaker have acted as advisors to the team.
“The role of the guides in the development of this line is unprecedented,” says Peter Whittaker, co-owner of Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. and Whittaker Mountaineering. “Combined we spend more than 1200 days a year in the high mountains. We know what gear works best out there, and what it takes to be prepared. We designed it. We built it. We live in it. And nothing goes to market until we literally sign off on every detail. We put our names on it, right down to the hangtags.” The team built the line from the ground up, leading the design and development process with rigorous field tests on expeditions of Rainier in Washington state; Ecuador's Cotopaxi, one of the world's highest active volcanoes; and Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain in the Americas. The team is preparing for an Everest expedition in April.
“Our approach to First Ascent is to keep the product pure, focusing only on what you need,” says Ed Viesturs. “The guiding mantra has been about simplification, functionality and performance. That's why we say it's everything you need, nothing you don't. It's that simple. And simple is better.”
Nearly 80 guides around the world work for Rainier Mountaineering on the big mountains of Everest, Rainier, Denali, Cotopaxi (Ecuador), Aconcagua (Argentina), Kilimanjaro, and others. Beginning in April, all RMI guides will be outfitted in First Ascent gear, along with many of their clients.
The name of the line hearkens back to many of the first ascents outfitted by Eddie Bauer, including:
* The First Ascent of Gasherbrum I in Pakistan (1958)
* The First Ascent of Masherbrum in Pakistan (1960)
* The First American Ascent of Everest (1963)
* The First Ascent of the Everest West Ridge (1963)
* The First Ascent of Mount Kennedy in Canada (1965)
* The First Ascent of Vinson Massif in Antarctica (1966)
* The First American Ascent of Dhaulagiri in Nepal (1973)
* The First American Ascent of Peak Lenin in the Russian Pamirs (1974)
* The First Ascent of the North Ridge of Nanda Devi in India (1976)
* The First Ascent of Great Trango Tower in Pakistan (1977)
* The First American Ascent of Makalu in Nepal (1980)
* The First Ascent of the Everest East Face (1983)
“First Ascent takes inspiration not only from these great historic achievements,” said Neil Fiske, “but also a timeless aspiration–to be first, to do what has never been done, to believe that anything is possible. That drive is the heart of exploration and human achievement.”
The guides built the First Ascent line as a complete system–from baselayer to insulating layers to softshell and hardshell outerwear. Each piece is designed to work with every other piece in the system to ensure the best fit, comfort and performance. The result is a streamlined system so versatile that it can cover any condition on the mountain. As First Ascent Guide Melissa Arnot says, “There are a lot of dangers up there. Things we can't control. But one of the things we can control is the quality of our gear. Our lives depend on it.” In addition to the garments, the First Ascent line includes backpacks, tents, knives and other essential gear.
The idea for First Ascent was born on a successful climb of Rainier, led by Peter Whittaker with Neil Fiske as a client. “It's great to re-unite two great names in American mountaineering history, Eddie Bauer and the Whittaker family,” said Neil Fiske. “Eddie would be proud of what we have built.”