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ExWeb interview: Everest 2005 – Jim Williams, best chef on the hill!
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Mar 24, 2005 11: 24 EST
American Jim Williams is one of the few people in the world who can claim to be both a polar explorer and a high altitude climber. Oddly enough it's his cooking skills he brags about. This spring, he's leading a four-member guided team on Everest’s South Col route.

Polar pioneer and Everest summiteer

Back in 1989, Jim was a member of the team that pioneered the Hercules Inlet – South Pole route, now followed by almost all South Pole expeditions. He co-led the team which included, among others, Mike Sharp, who has now been the head of the Patriot Hill base for the past two years, and Polar legend Martyn Williams, who helped establish the first private polar logistic company, ANI.

Williams has been alternating between polar adventures and climbing for the past 35 years. In a chat with ExplorersWeb, he discussed the guiding life and told us about his next expedition plans.

ExWeb:We’ll start with an easy one. What is your dream?

Jim: “To live a long and prosperous life in the mountains.”

ExWeb:Are you a full-time guide or do you do something else in your "civilian life"?

Jim: This is my civilian life. I guide expeditions to remote mountains and cultures around the world year around.

ExWeb:You are currently organizing a guided expedition to Everest. What is your previous experience on the mountain?

Jim: This year will be my 10th season on Everest in the past 12 years. I have summited once in 2000. As a guide, I am devoted to the needs of my clients, so I have been to the south summit several times with clients and had to turn around. I must say that to date all my clients have returned in good shape.

ExWeb:Is this your first commercial outfit?

Jim: No. I have had a company, Professional Mountain Guides, for the past twenty years. I also have a passion for cultural travel, and recently combined climbing and culture into a single entity, under the name – Exploradus. The idea is to continue to provide personal, high quality expeditions to the mountains and cultures in remote areas around the world. This is our first Everest expedition that is not being run with other companies.

ExWeb:Can you give us some details on the climb you are planning on Everest?

Jim: We will be climbing the standard South Col route. We count on the support of 6 to 8 climbing Sherpas, led by Sirdar Nima Tashi from Pangboche. We will all be using supplemental oxygen. It is our plan to use the POISK bottles and system.

ExWeb:What about the climbing team?

Jim: Well, there’s me, Jim Williams (50) – leader – the best chef on the hill! Team members will be Neal Mueller, 27, involved in the Seven Summits quest and also searching for “the beautiful yeti!”; Chris Grubb, 25, a recent business school graduate; and Urszula Tokarska, 41, who is giving Everest a second try after reaching the South Summit last year. If she succeeds this time, Urszula will be the first Canadian woman to climb all Seven Summits. Carrie Dagher, 29, is joining the team as Base Camp Manager. She is an aspiring mountain film maker and lover of the unknown.

ExWeb:What makes your expedition different from the others attempting Everest this spring?

Jim: The one thing that I believe sets me apart from others is my years of experience in all parts of the world and my dedication to the well being of my clients. I am also known for my culinary skills at high altitude and below. I love to eat well and be happy!!!

ExWeb:Everest, South Pole… K2 next?

Jim is also planning a guided climb of K2 from the north side in the near future.

Pakistan’s ‘savage mountain’ would be a beautiful next step in Williams’ climbing and exploration career, which already includes: A first ascent on Ru-dshe Konka in China (a 2000 meter alpine face climb) in 1982, reaching the South Pole in 1989, exploring the Greenland mountains in 1989, leading the 1st guided American crossing of the Patagonian Ice Cap on skis in 1990, guiding all Seven Summits in less than one year (2000/2001), and guiding a group across South Georgia Island along Shackleton's route in 2000.

Image of Jim courtesy of Jim Williams
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