Arthur Muir, the oldest American to summit Mount Everest, is an Eagle Scout

Eagle Scout Arthur Muir spoke to the media on May 30 in Kathmandu, Nepal, after returning from climbing Mount Everest. (AP Photo/Bikram Rai)

Sixty-one years before he became the oldest American to summit Mount Everest, Arthur B. Muir had another mountaintop moment: he earned the Eagle Scout Award.

Muir made international headlines last month when the world learned of his successful climb to the highest point on Earth.

At 75, Muir became the oldest American to reach the top of the world, surpassing Bill Burke, who was 72 when he reached the summit for the second time.

“I was just surprised when I actually got there, but I was too tired to stand up,” Muir told NBC’s Today Show. “My summit picture, I am sitting down.”

Muir, who has three children and six grandchildren, tried to summit Everest in 2019 but was forced to call off that attempt when he fell off a ladder during the climb. The mountain was closed to climbers in 2020 because of the pandemic.

He spent the two years between attempts training his body — and mind — for another attempt.

In May 2021, Muir was part of a team of nine climbers and 20 sherpas who reached the summit on the same day.

“I was just overwhelmed with the emotion,” Muir said on the Today Show. “To be quite honest, I thought about my family, I thought about my grandchildren, one of whom was born while I was on this expedition, and I started crying. It was just kind of this emotional outlet.”

While he’s understandably proud of his Everest climb, Muir tells Bryan on Scouting that he’s just as proud of his status as an Eagle Scout.

”I have always thought Scouting was one of the most important influences on my life,” he says. “The skills I learned there have served me well ever since. I’m proud to be an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow.”

It started in Scouting

Arthur Muir was just 7 years old on May 29, 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Muir was born in Colorado in 1946 to Dr. Bennett W. Muir and Frieda Elizabeth Vennum. Muir’s dad was an accomplished ophthalmologist who designed surgical techniques widely adopted by other eye surgeons.

But even with his private practice keeping him busy, Dr. Muir made time to volunteer with Troop 74 of Aurora, Colo., which gave him a chance to spend time with his son.

Arthur Muir became an Eagle Scout on April 21, 1960. He was 14 years old.

Scouting traditions

After high school, Muir earned a political science degree from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from UPenn’s Wharton School and a law degree from Northwestern University.

After that, Muir worked in law in Chicago, retiring as a partner at the firm McGuireWoods at the end of 2014.

Like his dad, Muir made time to volunteer as a Scout leader despite his busy schedule. He was a chartered organization representative for Troop 24, which met at the United Methodist Church in Glencoe, Ill., as well as a Venturing crew that formed at the church years later.

He served as a merit badge counselor, Eagle Scout mentor and Eagle Scout project coach.

In other words, he hasn’t been content just reaching summits himself. He’s helping others reach them, too.

About Bryan Wendell 3157 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.