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Conrad Anker

Pete Athans

Alpine Climber

Biography

Pete’s name has been synonymous with the exploration of Mt. Everest for nearly three decades. He has led numerous expeditions to the world’s highest peak mountain and has summited a record setting seven times. Peter is a strong advocate of Sherpa culture and has documented their talents at high altitude in books, periodicals, films and presentations. He is Director of the Khumbu Climbing Center and works to improve the competence, safety and professionalism of all Nepalese high altitude climbers. However, Everest is only one of Pete’s varied achievements.

With more than three decades of Himalayan exploration behind him, he has taken a strong interest in the exploration of both the physical and cultural landscapes of Tibet and Western China, their untrammeled peaks and unique cultures. He is a board member of the Himalayan Cataract Project, which brings eye care to cataract patients in Nepal. Concurrently, Peter and his family began the work of encouraging literacy in Nepalese children with the “Magic Yeti Library” project. They have bi-lingual libraries operating in six villages in the Everest region and in the restricted, mythical Kingdom of Upper Mustang in North Western Nepal. 

In addition to filming and writing, Peter studies Himalayan Archaeology and has been working with the Nepalese government in exploring ancient cave dwellings in North West Nepal. His work with National Geographic Television and PBS on archaeological discoveries in Nepal’s Kingdom of Mustang have been seen by tens of millions of people globally. His third film in the Mustang series, “Cave People of the Himalaya,” premiered on PBS February 15th, 2012. Moreover, National Geographic Magazine presented a prominent feature article on the caves project discoveries in December of 2012. With global recognition for his team’s innovative research, his project has been recognized by and supported with funds from the National Science Foundation. 

Currently, Pete has been active working to rebuild Nepal after the devastating earthquakes in April and May of 2015. Not only has he been instrumental in distributing life saving medical and shelter materials, he has also been involved in construction projects, overseen by Unesco architects, focused on creating homes with local materials and using earthquake resistant features. His work has been featured on the PBS series “Nova” recently, the highest rated program of it’s kind this season, “Himalayan Megaquake.” Pete has been recognized by the Nepalese Government and awarded “Good Will Ambassador” status for his  post-earthquake efforts. 

He is an accomplished speaker and has contributed to dozens of books, periodicals and films featuring exploration in the Himalaya. Pete is frequently interviewed by broadcasters such as NPR, PBS and National Geographic on current topics about Nepal and Mount Everest. 

Career Highlights

16 expeditions in 18 years to the Mt. Everest massif; seven summits of the peak, more than any other climber of non-Sherpa ethnicity in 2002.

  • Awarded “Good Will Ambassador” post by the Nepalese Government for post earthquake efforts in 2015
  • Awarded National Science Foundation recognition and funding for continuing research in Nepal’s remote and fascinating region of Mustang in 2015.
    Awarded The Explorers Club Tenzing Norgay Award, 2005.
  • David A. Sowles Award: Granted by The American Alpine Club, this award is given to climbers who distinguish themselves by accepting great personal risk and sacrificing their own objectives to assist fellow climbers who are in distress. In 1996, Peter exhibited great compassion and courage in the rescue of Beck Weathers and Makalu Gau during one of Mount Everest’s most lethal climbing seasons.
  • Columbia University-DuPont Golden Baton Award for Journalism: The production team for Everest: Into the Death Zone was awarded this prestigious prize for their efforts on Everest throughout the spring of 1997.
  • The Vision and the View (Light in the Himalayas), Himalayan Cataract Project/The North Face®/ Rush
  • Surviving Everest: 50 Years of Exploration, National Geographic special program. Peter assisted in the writing, filming, high-altitude videography and editing of this film.
  • The High Route to Tibet: National Geographic film documenting 30 years of adventure and exploration by Joseph Rock, . Tibet and China’s foremost explorer. Peter starred in the film and worked with the production team.
  • Explorer on Ice: National Geographic film highlighting the exhilaration and fear that accompanies travelers through Everest’s notorious Khumbu Icefall. Peter assisted the production team and talent.
  • Everest: The Mountain at the Millennium, NBC and American Adventure Productions in collaboration with The North Face. This program documents a small team of scientists and climbers measuring Everest’s height and movement. Pete led the expedition, served as talent and assisted the production team.
  • Everest: Into the Death Zone: Pete recorded high-altitude video for this award-winning program, produced with WGBH of Boston for Nova, which investigates the difficulties of climbing at extreme altitudes throughout the course ofa two-month expedition to Everest.
  • Seven Years in Tibet: Mandalay Productions’ feature-film adaptation of the classic tale of exploration and self-discovery written by Heinrich Harrer in 1953. Peter worked with the second-unit film team on location in Tibet.
  • The Dark Side of Everest: This film by Great North Productions (for National Geographic in Great Britain) examines the ethics and interactions of climbers in the “Death Zone” on Everest.