Erik Weihenmayer | The Sports Mind Institute

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Erik Weihenmayer

Despite going blind at age 13, Erik Weihenmayer had the privilege of living an adventurous life. On May 25, 2001, he became the only blind person in history to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest. At age 39, he reached the top of Carstensz Pyramid, the tallest peak in Australia, completing his quest to climb all of the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. An article in Time Magazine said, "There is no way to put what Erik has done in perspective because no one has ever done anything like it. It is a unique achievement, one that in the truest sense pushes the limits of what man is capable of.”

What this quote doesn’t mention is the immense belief and loyalty of his climbing partners who have helped him fulfill his dreams. Before he climbed Mt. Everest, many Himalayan climbing veterans said he was going to endanger his team. Instead, they had one of the most successful Everest expeditions in history. Nineteen out of 21 of them stood on top, a world record: the most people from one team to reach the summit in a single day. The Mt. Everest climb was sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. Essentially, this translated to 50,000 blind people organizing car washes and bake sales to get Erik to the top of Mt. Everest. So when standing on a summit, Erik always felt like he was on the shoulders of great friends and supporters.

In September 2003, Erik completed Primal Quest, one of the toughest multi-sport races in the world – 9 days, 460 miles, 60,000 feet of elevation gain, no time outs. In fall, 2004, he, along with his Everest teammates, led a group of blind Tibetan teenagers to 21,000 ft. on the north face of Mt. Everest as an educational outreach project to carve out opportunities for young people around the globe, no matter what their challenges. This expedition was documented in the film, Blindsight, which won the People's Choice award at some of the top film festivals in the world.

More recently, Erik and his Everest teammates created a program called Soldiers To Summits, which helps wounded warriors overcome their disabilities and become successful in civilian life. The ascent of Lobuche, a 20,000 foot peak in Nepal, was the the subject of the award-winning film, High Ground.

Erik is a speaker, a career which has taken him around the world, from Hong Kong to Geneva, from the 2005 APEC Summit in Chile to the 2009 Presidential Inaugural celebration in Washington DC., He has shared speaking platforms with Secretary Colin Powell, Vice President Al Gore, Henry Kissinger, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and authors Tom Peters and Stephen Covey. Erik speaks to audiences on harnessing the power of adversity, the importance of a "rope team," and the daily struggle to pursue your dreams.

In September 2014, Erik kayaked the entire 277 mile length of the Grand Canyon (www.KayakingBlind.org) along with blinded Navy veteran, Lonnie Bedwell. Lonnie and Erik were supported by a strong team of friends who guided them through the rapids, and the expedition was hosted by No Barriers USA. Through the journey, Lonnie and Erik encouraged followers to take the No Barriers Pledge (www.nobarriersusa.org), a commitment statement to live a No Barriers Life.

Career Highlights

  • Blind Adventurer
  • Summited 7-Tallest Peaks On All 7 Continents
  • Kayaked Grand Canyon
  • Featured In Multiple Books & Movie Documentaries
  • No Barriers Foundation, Founder