Monday, June 1, 2009

Blind Mountain Climber

I stumbled across the book "Touch the Top of the World" by Erik Weihenmayer at my local library. Eric is an adventurer who is blind, and this book covers his early life, when he had some vision, coping with the loss of his vision and his interest in trekking and mountain climbing.
I especially liked his discussion of adjusting to his vision loss, and about using a cane, and a guide dog. He has a nice ability to describe his experience without jargon or making it more than it is, such as when he was losing his vision and how he first learned to use echolocation.There is also great discussion about how he and his climbing partners have developed strategies to accommodate him on hikes, and climbs. In one amazing part, he is scaling the 3000 ft El Cap in Yosemite and has to run across the face, swinging on his rope to reach a hand hold. He is guided by his partners, and is able to make the catch.

I have never been especially interested in mountain or rock climbing, and he made it an engaging subject, never mind that he's doing this without the use of his sight.
The video below is his ascent of Everest. In it you you see his use of bells on his climbing parter's poles to keep track of the trail. Great book and video.

Larger version at Hulu

Erik Weihenmayer's Site
offers more information on his speaking engagements, books, videos and even a free curriculum on Touch the Top of the World for teachers.

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