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American mountaineer Ed Webster to serve as next DLS speaker

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will host Ed Webster – mountain climber, author, photo-journalist, and veteran of seven Himalayan expeditions – as the next speaker in its 2011-2012 University Distinguished Lecturer Series.

Webster has achieved and survived the impossible – in 1988, he and three partners ascended a new, never-before-attempted route up Mt. Everest’s most dangerous, isolated side in Tibet with no sherpas, no radios and no oxygen. Webster will share his riveting tale of human endurance and remarkable teamwork, and provide a breathtaking slide show to accompany his story, during his presentation Everest the Hard Way on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center. The public is invited to attend a reception and book-signing event to be held in the Alumni Room immediately following his lecture.

Webster, the only New England mountaineer who has established a new route up Mt. Everest, has been rock climbing since he was 11. He has experience at most of the major rock climbing areas in the United States, as well as significant rock climbs and first ascents in England, Wales, Scotland, France, Spain, Italy, Norway, and Sweden.

Webster made three ascents of Yosemite’s El Capitan and a solo first ascent on the Diamond, Longs Peak. He made the first ascents of four of Colorado and Utah’s now world-famous rock climbs: The Scenic Cruise and The Hallucenogen Wall (1979) in Colorado’s Black Canyon—and in Canyonlands, Utah; Super Crack (1976) in Indian Creek; and The Primrose Dihedrals (1979) on Moses Tower. Webster taught ice climbing in Scotland on Ben Nevis and in Glencoe in the winter of 1981. He made the first ascent of the North Face Direct of Mt. Robson in 1983, topped Mt. Fuji, Japan in 1985, and Kilimanjaro in Africa in 1995.

Born in 1956, Webster grew up in Lexington, Mass., and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Colorado College in Colorado Springs in 1978. He is an acknowledged expert on the history of Mount Everest, George Mallory, and Tenzing Norgay. Now a resident of Orr’s Island, Webster has lectured worldwide.

Webster has written two definitive guidebooks, Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Climbing in the Magic Islands to the Lofoten Islands of Arctic Norway. Webster’s best-selling autobiography, Snow in the Kingdom, chronicles his experiences on Mt. Everest. Voted one of the 10 best Everest books of all time by Outside Magazine in May, 2003, the book is a document on modern lightweight, ethical Himalayan climbing, and a deeply personal account of his uncharted route up Everest’s most dangerous side.

Webster is the recipient of the American Mountain Foundation’s 1988 Seventh Grade Award for outstanding achievements in mountaineering; the American Alpine Club’s 1990 Literary Award; and American Alpine Club’s 1994 David H. Soules Award, for saving the life of a fellow climber. His photographs have been published worldwide, in publications such as Climbing Magazine, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Rock & Ice, Popular Mechanics, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

The University’s Distinguished Lecturer Series was established in 1999. Each year, the UDLS Committee sponsors five to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. While the emphasis tends to be on featuring visiting academics, it is not exclusively so. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

Following his talk, Webster will sign copies of Snow in the Kingdom and Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the go-to guidebook for New Hampshire rock climbing. There also will be eight new color posters, including 6 portraits of Mt. Everest and the view from Mt. Everest, available for purchase. The public is invited to be a part of this free event. For more information, contact the University’s Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452.