Saturday, July 20, 2019

Erik Weihenmayer- The blind mountaineer

Erik Weihenmayer- The blind mountaineer
‘A spark of greatness exists in all people, but only by touching that spark to adversity’s flame does it blaze into the force that fuels our lives and the world.’
Eric Weihenmayer was born on September 23, 1968 in Princeton, New Jersey. At 15 months old, he was diagnosed with juvenile retinoschisis, with blindness the expected outcome by age 13. At age 4, Weihenmayer and his family moved to Coral Gables, Florida, and, in 1975, to Hong Kong, where Erik attended the Hong Kong International School for grades 2-6. As he was going blind, Weihenmayer fought against blindness using canes and learning Braille[1]. At 16, he started using a guide dog. He tried rock climbing, and found he was natural at scrambling up a face using his hands and feet to find holds. After his blindness, he started becoming more physically active, taking up both wrestling and rock climbing. He credited this to his parents’ insistence and encouragement.
After graduating from college, Weihenmayer became a teacher and also joined the Arizona Mountaineering Club, spending his free time rock climbing. Soon it was much more than just a hobby and in 1995 he reached the top of Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America. Weihenmayer went on to scale three more of the seven highest mountains in the world (the “Seven Summits,” or highest mountains on each continent) before finally setting his sights on Mount Everest in 2001[2].
His decision to climb Mount Everest was doubted by his fellow mountaineers . He was hurt by all the doubts, but he was also aware of the many problems that he would have to face, that other mountaineers with full use of sight did not. But Weihenmayer was no mountaineering novice who was simply determined to reach the world’s highest peak at great risk to his other team members. He had been climbing for 16 years at this point and, far from being a hindrance to his climbing teammates, he had often been the one to offer them assistance.
When he finally climbed Mount Everest in spite of all the doubts and challenges that he faced, he joined the ranks of the few who had been able to climb to the highest spot on the planet.
And by 2008, he had climbed the rest of the Seven Summits, becoming one of only 150 people to have ever accomplished this, yet another incredible feat in an incredible career.

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