The Insider #6: Mountaineers Hannah Shields & Ian Taylor - how realistic is Everest?
A blind climber has conquered Everest. And then six more highest peaks on the continents
Erik Weichenmeier, while still at school, experienced something that could break even an adult. At the age of 13, he became completely blind, and only sports helped him cope with difficulties and not get depressed. Eric managed to become the first blind climber to conquer the highest mountains of every continent.
However, this is not his only achievement, but rather, it is only the beginning of a life full of adrenaline. We tell about the amazing story of the climber Eric Weichenmeier.
Find yourself: how did Weichenmeier decide to go mountaineering?
Eric was born in 1968 in Princeton, New Jersey, into a wealthy American family. At the age of three, he was diagnosed with a congenital retinal defect, and by the age of 11, the boy was destined to completely lose his sight. It was not easy to accept what happened: Eric broke canes, refused a guide dog and did not want to ride the school bus for the disabled. An attempt to distract himself was inept football, but they did not help, but only exacerbated the boy's depression. After a bad experience in sports, Eric gave up training. And it was this decision that radically changed his life, because then he realized that he could not live without sports.
Now his every day began with jogging in the park, freestyle wrestling and other active sports. With the fight, the boy was doing just fine. He became the captain of the school team, entered the state team and competed in the national championship.
In high school, Weichenmeier lost his mother in a car accident. After her death, his father took him and his brothers on a trip to Peru to rally the family and help overcome difficulties. This family adventure, which included a 14,000-foot trek, kicked off a tradition of annual travel to remote corners of the world and fueled a love of the mountaineering life.
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Conquest of peaks: ascents to the highest mountains
Rock climbing opened the door for Eric to the world of adventure, and also inspired to try himself in skydiving, paragliding , skiing and ice climbing. Strong physique allowed Weichenmeier to test himself in various types of sports tourism. In 1991 he was in the Pamirs, and two years later he crossed the Batura glacier - one of the largest glaciers in the world with an area of 285 square kilometers and a height of 2540 meters.
In 1995, Eric climbed Mount Denali in Alaska. In his autobiography, he recalls the most difficult part of the ascent - it was a distance from 4267 to 4876 meters - at that moment Eric was afraid that he was making a terrible mistake.
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Thus began the famous series of ascents to the highest peaks in the world. Two years later, he conquered Kilimanjaro, and two more years later ascended Aconcagua. Moreover, for the first time the peak in South America did not succumb to a climber, so he had to make a second and already successful attempt.
Eric opened the beginning of the century by conquering Vinson Peak in Antarctica, which has an altitude of 4892 meters above sea level. From a frost of 45 degrees, legs drooped, his lips turned blue, but the climber nevertheless reached the summit.
Eric explains his love of climbing as follows:
The most famous climb of the entire series is, of course, climbing Mount Everest. Weichenmeier climbed to the highest peak in the world in 2001, which made him a star. The following year, he was even invited to complete the Olympic torch relay and light the torch at the Salt Lake City Winter Paralympics.
After Everest, he reached the summit of Elbrus, and in 2008 climbed the Karstens pyramid on the island of New Guinea. This achievement completed the circle on a journey that began in 1995. It took him 13 years to conquer the seven highest peaks of every continent.
More not the end: what else has Erik Weichenmeier distinguished himself in?
Erik spends his free time from ascents no less actively. Since 1998, he has been involved in cycling, which began with a journey of 1736 kilometers with his father in Vietnam. Later, he became involved in cycling and covered more and more distances.
In 2002, Eric became the first blind lone paraglider and did not stop at one flight. He has more than 50 of them in his luggage. According to him, the most difficult thing about this is landing, so a rope with a bell is tied to his leg, which clings to the ground and a sound informs that it is time to go down.
In September 2014, Eric sailed over 450 kilometers in a Grand Canyon kayak.
Eric Weichenmeier is currently promoting sports, writing books and motivating people to overcome barriers in life.