Peter Whittaker Is The Owner of Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and Inventor of Mountain Logic Apparel.
RMI Expeditions,Peter Whittaker, Rainier Mountaineering Inc, Mountain Logic Apparel, MtnLogic
MRV: The Buzz, Your Outdoor Lifestyle Insider, Written By: Jared Langenegger
Making Life & Death Decisions At RMI Expeditions
Peter Whittaker Took Over His Father's Mountaineering Guide Business And Came To Partner With Polartech To Develop A New Line Of Alpine Workwear
In the shadows of Mount Rainier, an active volcano as well as the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., the Whittaker family has made an unmistakable mark on mountaineering. “I was born into a mountaineering family, my uncle was the first American to climb Mount Everest in 1963”, claims Peter Whittaker, Owner of RMI Expeditions and Inventor of Mountain Logic Apparel. “Jim was my uncle and Lou was my father who started the guide service RMI in 1969. We are the largest American mountain guiding service, we guide on Rainier, Denali, Everest, all over the world.”
From the time they were young, Jim and Lou Whittaker were exploring the mountains of Washington. They first climbed Mt. Rainier at age 16. In 1969, Lou partnered with Jerry Lynch to form Rainier Mountaineering Inc. In 2006, Peter purchased RMI from his father Lou and took over as the CEO of the company. Over the years, the Whittaker family has blazed new trails not only on mountains, but in producing equipment for mountaineering. They have collaborated with various names in the mountaineering equipment industry including Marmot, New Balance, Eddie Bauer, Buck Knives, Jan Sport, and Timberland.
The most recent endeavor for Peter is a partnership with Polartech to develop a new line of alpine workwear christened MtnLogic. “I’ve worked with a bunch of companies over the years and have learned a lot, and have enjoyed creating products and solving problems. Really that is what MtnLogic is all about is solving problems for our jobs”, explains Peter. “I describe high altitude mountaineering as low level long-term suffering. You’re up there where nothing’s alive and you’re trying to survive. You need to be careful, you need to be smart, and the best way to survive is to be efficient. That’s what we tried to do with the clothes. Often times you’ll see bells and whistles, and features that are not based in function. I have 60 mountain guides that work with me and our process is to leverage all of the knowledge from this amazing team. Collectively we spend 10,000 days a year above the tree line, so we have a lot of knowledge as to what our needs are and what works, and that’s where we start and try to put it together in a sensible way that works well for us up high, but also works well anywhere else in the outdoors.”
Peter’s experience in mountaineering apparel also helps him to properly outfit customers for RMI Expeditions. “The product is kind of an extension of the guiding. People hire me to make life and death decisions, at the same time, I want to get them in the best product and have them experience things that have been well thought out. That includes the guiding and keeping them safe as well as the clothes they wear”, says Peter.
Peter’s love of mountain climbing, doesn’t center around his business interests, but more around helping people. In 1995 Peter established Expedition Inspiration, a group to raise awareness for breast cancer. “I led a team of breast cancer survivors in 1995 to the summit of Aconcagua, it’s the highest summit in South America. I had a personal friend diagnosed and we put together a breast cancer awareness group called Expedition Inspiration, which still operates today. Back in 1995 we raised 2.3 million dollars through this climb and raised a lot of awareness. I led 17 breast cancer survivors down there, so for me that was definitely a high point, it was really rewarding, it was a pretty cool thing to do”, recalls Peter.
RMI Expeditions, provides guiding services to a wide range of clientele on mountains around the world. “Our typical client is an outdoors person that has hiked and camped a bit, but never been on a glacier, never been on a rope, never been in crampons. Seventy percent of our clients are people that are just being introduced to mountaineering. The great thing about Kilimanjaro, Mt. Rainier, and the world’s highest mountains is that they are not technically so involved that most people could not attempt them. It’s not really super steep, but long sustained slopes, that if you train correctly and utilize some good high-altitude techniques, the average person can summit these, so it’s really accessible and available to a lot of people”, says Peter.
While RMI does take novice and beginner climbers on treks, mountaineering is not without its dangers. “The most dangerous thing you deal with is ice falls and rock falls. You have to be a good decision maker; you have to do well with putting up with discomfort and adversity. You also have to have a really broad understanding of the dangers. That is what we do as mountain guides; people hire us to manage their safety. We try to keep a big margin of safety, and you can’t have a summit at all costs type attitude”, explains Peter.
“For me I was born into the mountaineering family, I love mountain climbing, but I love taking people on an adventure and helping them step outside of their comfort zone, for me that is really rewarding. I feel very fortunate, I’m lucky to have a business that allows me to get outdoors and take people outdoors and broaden their experiences, it’s pretty cool. I feel lucky to have grown up doing what I’ve been doing and to continue doing it my whole life, it makes it fun going to work”, states Peter.
A graduate of New Mexico State University with B.S. in wildlife and fisheries science, Jared spent 15 years working in fisheries and parks management. He enjoys camping, fishing, hunting, painting, and wood working.
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MtnLogic apparel, whose philosophy was born from the need to have a system that meets the rigors of our day-to-day work in unforgiving conditions. Their collective experience ensures that everything they craft is deliberate, functional, and intuitive.