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Seven storied mountains
Erik Weihenmayer '91



On September 5, Erik Weihenmayer '91 completed his quest to ascend the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents by summiting 7,316-foot Mt. Kosciusko (see below), the highest peak in Australia. With that, he became the first blind person to accomplish the feat.

BCM interviewed Weihenmayer in Fall 2001 ("Contact"), shortly after his 29,035-foot ascent of Nepal's Mt. Everest, and he described the sensations at the summit: "There are prayer flags lying on the ground flapping in the breeze. You can hear them. The snow is almost like ice. You hear the wind howling and, all around, you can hear just space. The sound of open space is beautiful."

From left: Everest; Elbrus; Kosciusko; Kilimanjaro; Vinson; Aconcagua

Weihenmayer began his assault on the so-called Seven Summits in 1995 with Alaska's 20,320-foot Denali, or Mt. McKinley (large photo at top of page). There followed 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 1997, where he married his wife, Ellie; Argentina's 22,834-foot Aconcagua, in 1999; the 16,066-foot Vinson Massif in Antarctica, in 2001; and Russia's 18,510-foot Mt. Elbrus, in 2002.

A former teacher turned motivational speaker, Weihenmayer lost his sight to retinoschisis, a congenital disorder, at age 13. He has since taken up competitive wrestling, rock climbing, skiing, and paragliding.

Tim Heffernan

Click any of the above images to enlarge them in a new window.

Photos by Jamie Bloomquist (top) and, from left, Luis Benitez; Didrik Johnck; Michael Brown; Joanna Storm; Chris Morris; Chris Morris.

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Works and Days
. . .
  »  Erik Weihenmayer's Web site
. . .
  »  Weihenmayer's book, Touch the Top of the World, is available at a discount from the BC Bookstore
. . .
  »  The BCM interview (Fall 2001)

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