It was 16 years ago when Erik Weihenmayer climbed 29,000 feet to the top of Mount Everest and it was more than 30 years ago when he went blind.
Weihenmayer is known an extreme adventurist, traveling around the world testing and pushing his limits. His moto in life is ‘No Barriers.’ Weihenmayer says, he will never let his blindness become a barrier in his life.
“I was trapped in this little prison. I think you gain a certain sense of empathy for people and their barriers and it goes well beyond blindness it goes to all of humanity. People who struggle with physical barriers but also invisible barriers and those are sometimes the worst ones.”
After becoming the first blind man to climb Mount Everest, Weihenmayer wanted others dealing with their own barriers to face the uncertainty of a new adventure.
Weihenmayer says, “when you compare yourself to others it becomes de-motivational, like why should I try. It becomes another barrier, that guy climbed Everest, I could never do that. And that becomes a barrier it becomes like an excuse as to why you shouldn’t pursue what you want to do.”
In 2004, Weihenmayer along with a few others created the 'No Barrier Summit', where people with all abilities come together to help each other tear down the walls that have been holding them back. Weihenmayer says, “watching them do that and going through a transformative experience where those walls come down is like the most powerful thing you’ll ever encounter in life.”
Almost a decade after No Barriers was created, Weihenmayer decided to take on another extreme adventure, except this time it was an idea that seemed nearly impossible. He decided to kayak 277 miles through the class 9 white waters of the Colorado River.
Weihenmayer explained, “it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, just because it was so overwhelming, I sort of felt like it was sensory overload.”
After 6 years of practicing, he finally accomplished his dream and says, “life is about climbing, it’s about ascending, it’s about moving forward and trying to evolve and grow and transform and challenge yourself to the day you die.”