IPFS Frosty Wooldridge


More About: Heroes

Erik Weihenmayer: Turning Into the Storm of Life

Ray Charles learned to play the piano as he lost his vision during his childhood.  In his 70 years, he scaled musical heights beyond the ordinary.  Helen Keller, blind, deaf and mute, learned to read and write as she sped toward becoming one of the 20th century's greatest humanitarians. Having lost both legs in war, Bob Wieland overcame his limitations to walk across America on his hands, race in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon and hand-cycle coast to coast across America three times.

(Erik Weihenmayer with walking poles on a trek through the mountains.)

Each of those greats decided to abandon feelings of despair, frustration and defeat.  Each "Turned into the Storm of Life" in order to make their own mark on humanity.

In the beginning of the 21st century, another intrepid spirit set out to climb the seven highest peaks on the seven continents of the world.  On May 25, 2001, Erik Weihenmayer of Golden, Colorado, became the only blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.  Later in 2008 he climbed Carstensz Pyramid on the island of Papua New Guinea, completing the "Seven Summits" on seven continents.  

Weihenmayer's mountain climbing quest started in 1995 with his ascent of Mt. Denali in Alaska.  He lives in the rarefied air of a scant 118 mountaineers who have climbed the "Seven Summits" which constitute the tallest mountain peaks in the world.

After his successful climb to the top of Mt. Everest, he arrived back in my hometown of Golden, Colorado.  He spoke at a movie showing of his quest of Everest.  

When he slows down for a few months at a time, Weihenmayer authors books including: Touch the Top of the World.  Being a mountain climber myself, I read the book three times.  I see Erik with his wife and kids each winter at the "Christmas Parade" along Washington Street in Golden, Colorado.  When I shake his hand, I feel like I am shaking hands with someone as famous as Neil Armstrong, Daniel Boone, Ray Charles, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Each one of those individuals set out to make a difference in the world.  Each succeeded.

Weihenmayer once said, "One of the shortfalls that so many people have is that they allow distractions, fears and doubts to get into their heads and sabotage them.  Is there a way to make that difficult thing a catalyst rather than to let it crush you?  Yes!  I am only one of 118 people to climb all seven highest summits on all seven continents.  I am the only one to do it blind. I may not be able to see, but I can show others what's possible."

Erik can be reached at: www.touchthetop.com 

Books: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness; Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climbing Farther Than the Eye Can See.

 Additionally, he raced his mountain bike through 100 miles, four 12,000-foot passes and one 13,000-foot pass in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.  It takes 12 hours and nearly 12,000 vertical feet of climbing.  

In September 2014, with fellow blind kayaker, Lonnie Bidwell, Weihenmayer kayaked the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, 277 miles from Lee's Ferry to Pierce Ferry.  His awards include:

•    2014/2015 Nominated by National Geographic as Adventurer of the Year with fellow blind kayaker Lonnie Bedwell
•    2013 Presented Annie Glenn Award by American Speech Hearing Language Association
•    2005 Inducted into Connecticut National Wrestling Hall of Fame
•    2002 Received a second ARETE Award for the Superlative Athletic Achievement of the Year
         Received an ESPY Award
         Named Colorado Athlete of the Year
•    2001 Named one of Time's Best of Sports
•    1996 Carried the Olympic Torch for the Summer Games in Atlanta
•    1995 Received ARETE Award for Courage in Sports

Erik Weihenmayer inspires me, a fully sighted man. I am carried by his courage.  I am inspired by his heart.  I am driven by his true grit.

"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." Erik Weihenmayer

While Weihenmayer taught English and math in Phoenix, Arizona in his twenties, he continues his teaching skills with his "No Barriers Mindset" for kids.  Join him on his website.

Meet Erik Weihenmayer in his books or listen to him on his website. You, too, will discover the courage to face your own challenges and "Turn bravely into the storm of life."