His Boots Are Made for Climbin’


--Tom Whittaker is a mountain climber with a message. Whittaker, who lost his right foot in a 1979 automobile accident, wants to climb Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain, to show that disabled people are capable of anything. “I don’t feel like a kamikaze pilot,” said Whittaker, 40, a teacher of therapeutic recreation for disabled people at Idaho State University at Pocatello. “I go climbing not to make my life shorter. I do it for self-fulfillment.” Whittaker is part of a 15-member expedition led by Karen Fellerhoff, 29, of Bozeman, Mont., the first American woman to lead an assault on the 29,028-foot Everest. The team planned to leave Katmandu, Nepal, for its base camp today. The expedition team includes Peter Hillary, 34, the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the two men who were the first to climb Everest. Whittaker said he would hike to the base camp using a specially made walking boot and then switch to another special pair of carbon-graphite boots for the actual climb. The climbing boots, he said, were designed for the Everest attempt, with a spring at the heels to store energy and release pressure when the weight is off.

--Astronaut Robert C. Springer was ready to walk out during the Discovery mission, according to his mother. “Bob was hoping for just some little problem so he could take a space walk” and do some repair work, Betty Springer said from her son’s home in Seabrook, Tex. Instead, the flight was almost perfect, which suited Mrs. Springer just fine. The only problem in the five-day voyage concerned an erratic pressure reading from a hydrogen tank that helps supply electricity to the orbiter. Mrs. Springer and her husband, Walter, watched the shuttle take off at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, then went to Texas and watched the landing in California on TV Saturday. Springer, 46, served as a mission specialist aboard the shuttle.

--Cartoon cat Garfield is ready to go out on a limb for trees. Garfield, his creator Jim Davis and Smokey the Bear will join Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh and 170 schoolchildren in planting a tree on the Statehouse lawn in Indianapolis on Arbor Day. Davis, an Indiana native, is the 1989 Arbor Day spokesman for the Hoosier state. “Now is the perfect time for all Hoosiers to contribute something to their communities,” Davis said in a statement. “Plant a tree, plan a celebration, do something fun for Arbor Day.” Arbor Day, the second Friday of each April, is set aside to recognize the benefits trees provide.