Summiting the tallest peak on every continent is no small task. As a rock climber, it is certainly a very nice feather in one’s cap. But to do that without the ability to see, now that is quite the feat.
Meet Eric Weihenmayer, the first blind person to ever accomplish that feat. Around the time Weihenmayer was four or five, he was diagnosed with retinoschisis — a rare eye disease that took his full sight by age 13. Weihenmayer got into climbing when he joined a recreational group that took blind children rock climbing. From that day on, he had found his calling.
“When people say they summit for the view, I think they’re missing a lot of the equation of why we do the things we do,” Weihenmayer says. “The summit, honestly, is pretty anticlimactic. The movement, for me, is the most exciting part.”
While the prospect of not being able to see past your hands while climbing the world’s tallest peak sounds frightening, it is calming and meditative for Weihenmayer. “As a blind climber, it’s really hard. But you have to embrace that suffering. I think like all adversities, you’ve got to use them as a catalyst to push you into new directions.”
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