Leif waited for more than an hour at 28,700 feet, just below the summit, as 100 people slowly descended the tricky Hillary Step. If it hadn't been for calm winds May 26, the last window of good weather, he would have been forced back down.
"Each person climbs Everest for different reasons. The reason that I climb is because I love the mountain, I love what comes with it: the view from the top, the camaraderie of good teammates, the personal challenge of the experience, pushing past your own boundaries and growing because of that experience."
Father and son experienced the magnitude of emotion that comes with being at Everest together, and Whittaker is proud his son reached the summit twice. While the achievement continues the family legacy, Whittaker wanted his children to appreciate the life around them.
"I came back from Everest without ego because you realize how insignificant you are, just a speck in the vast universe," Whittaker said. "You dwell in the silence of the forest and the high mountains. They are the highest cathedrals in the world."