MSN Travel “First and Best” Follows Ed Viesturs’ Historic Mountaineering Attempt

REDMOND, Wash. — April 18, 2005 — This May, renowned mountain climber Ed Viesturs will make what is likely his final attempt at mountaineering history when he sets off for the summit of Mount Annapurna in Nepal. If successful, Viesturs will be the first American to summit all 14 8,000-meter peaks in the world without the use of oxygen — an incredible feat that has taken him nearly 20 years. MSN® Travel will be right there, allowing viewers to experience this bit of American mountaineering history as it unfolds.

As part of its groundbreaking travel series “First and Best,” MSN Travel will follow Viesturs as he makes his third attempt to conquer Mount Annapurna. “First and Best” host and author-adventurer Richard Bangs will lead a crew to the Annapurna base camp, where they will monitor and report on Viesturs’ progress.

“This type of compelling coverage will be among the many new features that will be available at MSN Travel,” said Stephen Cvengros, general manager of MSN Channels for Microsoft Corp. “We are committed to providing unparalleled multimedia coverage of the most engaging, diverse travel stories around the globe. With our top-notch travel journalism team, we will provide a genuine, in-depth look at this awe-inspiring trek to the top of the world.”

The initiative is part of a revamping of the MSN Travel site. MSN Travel will include services and content to provide users with a complete travel experience — whether they are seeking information for business, for pleasure or in preparation for real-world outings of their own. New features will include personal itinerary planning, destination guides, increased editorial content and customized content delivery.

“MSN Travel will focus solely on providing users with the best information in a purposeful and useful way,” Cvengros said. “We will combine coverage you won’t find anywhere else — like Viesturs’ climb — with fundamental tools the travel audience demands to create a one-stop shop for the travel connoisseur.”

To provide the “behind-the-scenes” component that is fast becoming the trademark of MSN Travel “First and Best” adventures, Bangs and his crew, including chief trek photographer Didrik Johnck and renowned Himalayan photographer Jimmy Chin, will be filming numerous dispatches from the area including stories about the culture and terrain, Viesturs’ 20-year journey to this point, and, of course, the climb itself.

“Much is riding on this climb, but I will treat it with the same respect I do each time I approach a summit,” Viesturs said. “I am focused on achieving this lifelong goal and also committed to coming home to see my family. The plan is to have the best of both worlds.”

Viesturs is respected in the mountaineering community for his careful approach to the tough terrain of peaks such as Annapurna. He is known for taking calculated risks, with safety at the forefront of all decisions. With this exclusive coverage of the climb, MSN users can follow Viesturs’ path, see his decisions in action and experience the breathtaking sights of Annapurna.

“It will be the next best thing to being there,” Cvengros said.

High avalanche conditions have thwarted two previous attempts by Viesturs to reach the peak of Annapurna. Weather permitting, Viesturs will begin his climb on May 1. Content on this potentially record-setting climb will launch on April 15 on http://www.firstandbest.msn.com .

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