UW News from Across the Campus and Around the World
Performing at His Peak
Ed Viesturs, '81, celebrated his 44th birthday in high style. The Bainbridge Island mountain climber became the first American to stand on top of 13 of the world's 14 highest mountains without supplemental oxygen when, on June 23, he and climbing partner Jean Christophe LaFaille reached the summit of Pakistan's Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest mountain at 26,658 feet.
Viesturs, who began his climbing career as a guide on Mount Rainier and has summitted Mount Everest five times, said Nanga Parbat was "one of the most difficult and physically challenging of my career." He failed in his first attempt to climb Nanga Parbat in 2001.
The mountain wasn't the only obstacle Viesturs faced. He had to cross through an essentially lawless no-man's land in the strife-torn region of Kashmir. Then he had to go through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where Al-Qaeda forces were thought to be in hiding.
Mountain climber Ed Viesturs, '81. Photos courtesy Ed Viesturs.
In addition to the extreme security threat, Viesturs also discovered that upon arrival in Islamabad, some of his baggageincluding such crucial items as his ice-climbing boots, tents, technical gear, even his contact lenseswere missing. He had to scramble to borrow or buy what he could there, while his stateside organizers were able to persuade Northwest Airlines to deliver an emergency-supply package on Memorial Day weekend.
"Beast" Conquers Japan-Is US Next?
Bob Sapp wanted to be a star, but he thought it would be on the football field. Instead, the former Husky offensive lineman hugely famous in Japan, where he is known as "The Beast", an almost invincible headliner for the popular, brutal sport of K-1, which combines karate, tae kwon do and kickboxing.
In December, about 74,000 fans packed the Tokyo Dome and another 10 million watched on TV as Sapp, who stands 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, destroyed four-time world champion Ernesto Hoost of the Netherlands.
Former Husky football player Bob Sapp. Photo courtesy K-1 USA.
"I don't enjoy hitting and hurting anyone at all, I'm not a madman," says Sapp, who played for the Huskies from 1994-96. "But I do enjoy going in there and getting the adrenaline flowing. Ninety-nine percent of the time it's done in good sportsmanship."
Sapp can't believe his stardom overseas. "Oh, man, it's crazy," says the 29-year-old, who is charismatic and loves to clown for the cameras. "And it's so hard to explain. A regular celebrity would hope to just get half this phenomenon."
He has signed on as the "ambassador" for Northwest Airlines and the NFL's Japan office. He is almost a regular feature on Japanese TV, appearing in commercials promoting everything from DVD players to fabric softener. His tongue-in-cheek debut CD, "Sapp Time," has sold more than 100,000 copies since March.
How did this all come about? "In every sport, you have to have a Plan B," says Sapp, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears but never made the team. He played briefly with the Minnesota Vikings before he was suspended for using steroids, a charge he denies. "For me, Plan B is already set. It's to do everything from voice-overs for cartoons to action and adventure movies, not only in the United States but here in Japan. I'm ready to do Hollywood movies."
Rowing Legend Takes Last Stroke
Jan Harville, '74, retired June 5 after coaching crew at the University of Washington for 23 years. In her 16 years as women's head crew coach, 11 individual boats from the UW won national championships and 41 crews won Pac-10 titles, including a streak of 11 in a row for the varsity eight from 1992-2002. She guided the UW women to NCAA titles in 1997, 1998 and 2001, and her teams have never finished lower than third in the NCAA championships. As a rower herself, she spent eight years with the U.S. national team, made two Olympic teams (1980 and 1984), medaled in three world championship regattas, was Pac-10 coach of the year nine times, national coach of the year and is a member of the National Rowing Hall of Fame. To say she will be missed is an understatement. Says Aimee Baker, the coach of Stanford's women's crew: "I can't even imagine the sport without her."
Old Faithful New Again
After nearly seven months of being dormant, Drumheller Fountain rumbled back to life in May. The fountain was drained last November because 25,000 gallons of water leaked from it daily. The fountain was cleaned, and cracks in the structure as well as the leaking pipes were repaired.
"I think we have to consider that the North Koreans have never had a military technology that they have not sold."
Former Speaker of the House and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Tom Foley, '51, '57, who spoke at the UW in May about the North Korean nuclear weapons program.