Climbing guide with hearing loss utilizing technology while moun - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Climbing guide with hearing loss utilizing technology while mountaineering

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Courtesy: RMI Expeditions Courtesy: RMI Expeditions

ASHFORD, WA - Tens of thousands of people have made it to the top of Mt. Rainier. Some of them can thank a single family for helping make that possible. The Whittaker's. That name is plastered all over the small town of Ashford, Washington. One of those Whittaker men has a unique perspective on the sights and, namely, the sounds of mountaineering.

"My father is Lou Whittaker and my uncle is Jim Whittaker who was the first American to summit Mt. Everest in 1963," said Win Whittaker.

In his family, there are a lot of outdoor activities with some really great life lessons.

"You learn that if you can push through those hardships that the reward is awesome," said Whittaker, who has been teaching people that lesson for years as a guide for his family's business, RMI Expeditions. 

However, about ten years ago, things started to change for Whittaker.

"Having to say, say again or excuse me or pardon me was becoming the new normal," said Whittaker. 

Years of playing in a band and a love of fireworks had taken his high-pitch hearing, where most of our speech is at.

 "I put off getting the hearing aide because I wanted to control them myself," said Whittaker.

Enter a new 'smart' hearing aide, a partnership between ReSound and Apple. It is quite literally music to Whittaker's ears.

"When I'm out in the environment I can control different parameters of this hearing aide," said Whittaker. 

He can control the sound of wind outside, crowd noise in public places and, most importantly, hear when his mountaineering clients are saying something.

"It has the ability to do that on the fly, not only on the phone but on the watch," said Whittaker.

Whittaker summits Mt. Rainier roughly a half-dozen times a year these days. He keeps busy in his free time, still plays in a band and is working on a documentary about climbing and his father.

Experts believe millions of Americans are suffering from hearing loss but many of them don't get it checked out for years and that can be dangerous.

Whittaker's device is just two years old and is called ReSound LiNX2 .