Ed Viesturs is America's leading high altitude mountaineer, having climbed many of the world's most challenging summits, including ascending Mount Everest six times. He recently completed a 16-year quest to climb all 14 of the world's highest mountains (above 8,000 meters) without the use of supplemental oxygen. In doing so, he became the first American and the 5th person in the world to accomplish this. Viesturs was born in 1959 and grew up in the flatlands of Rockford, Illinois, where the highest objects on the horizon were water towers. After some beginner's rock climbing at Devil's Lake, Wisconsin, Viesturs left the Midwest for the University of Washington in 1977 and inaugurated a long-running obsession with the mountains.