In September, 2003, Erik joined 320 stellar athletes from 17 countries to compete in the Primal Quest, the richest and toughest multi-sport adventure race in the world: 457 miles through the Sierra Nevadas, nine days, and no time-outs. Averaging only two hours of sleep a night, Erik and his team, No Boundaries, surged past the finish line on Lake Tahoe, becoming one of the 42 teams to cross the finish line out of the 80 teams that began. The following January, Erik's team was featured on an ABC two-hour Primal Quest special.
After Erik's Mt. Everest ascent, a school for the blind in Tibet invited him to teach its students mountaineering and rock climbing. His many climbs gave the teenagers the courage to excel in a culture which affords few opportunities for the blind. Erik and six Everest team members went to Tibet in May 2004 to train the students, then in October led them on a climb to the Rombuk Glacier on the north side of Mt. Everest. Ultimately, the teenagers stood together at 21,000 ft., higher than any blind person has ever stood, except Erik. Steven Haft, producer of such blockbusters as Dead Poets' Society, is making a documentary on the ascent to be released theatrically in Spring 2006. This climb will go a long way toward changing the mindset regarding disabled people throughout the Third World and beyond.
A former middle school teacher and wrestling coach, Erik is one of the most exciting and well-known athletes in the world. Despite losing his vision at the age of 13, Erik has become an accomplished mountain climber, paraglider, and skier, who has never let his blindness interfere with his passion for an exhilarating and fulfilling life. Erik's feats have earned him an ESPY award, recognition by Time Magazine for one of the greatest sporting achievements of 2001, induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, an ARETE Award for the superlative athletic performance of the year, the Helen Keller Lifetime Achievement award, and the Freedom Foundation's Free Spirit Award. He has also carried the Olympic Torch for both the Summer and Winter Games.
In addition to being a world-class athlete, Erik is also the author of the book, Touch the Top of the World. In this memoir, Erik recalls his struggle to push past the limits of vision loss. According to Publisher's Weekly, Erik's memoir is "moving and adventure packed, Weihenmayer tells his extraordinary story with humor, honesty and vivid detail, and his fortitude and enthusiasm are deeply inspiring. Erik has also been published in Time Magazine, Forbes, Reader's Digest, Outside, Climbing Magazine, and Chicken Soup.
Erik's extraordinary accomplishments have gained him abundant press coverage including repeated visits to NBC's Today Show and Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Oprah, Good Morning America, and the Tonight Show to name a few. He has also been featured on the cover of Time Magazine and in Sports Illustrated, People, and Men's Journal. A movie on his life is now underway.
Erik's award winning film, Farther Than the Eye Can See, shot in the same stunning quality HDTV format as the Star Wars prequels, is an intimate look inside one of the most successful Mount Everest expeditions ever. Bringing home first prize at 17 film festivals and nominated for two Emmy's, the film beautifully captures the emotion, humor and drama of Erik Weihenmayer's historic ascent as well as his team's four other remarkable 'firsts': the first American father/son team to summit, the oldest man to summit, the first High Definition film footage shot on the summit of Everest, and the most people from one team to reach the top of Everest in a single day. Farther Than the Eye Can See is currently being screened by film festivals, schools, colleges, corporations and special fundraising events for nonprofit organizations. To date, the film has raised approximately $600,000 for charitable organizations.
Erik speaks to audiences around the world on overcoming life's challenges, the importance of teamwork, and the daily struggle to pursue your dreams. Clearly, Erik's accomplishments show that one does not have to have perfect eyesight to have extraordinary vision. A partial list of his corporate clients includes Google, Bank of America, General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, Walmart, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, IBM, AT&T, General Electric, America On-line, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and Paine Webber. Erik has shared the speaking platform with notables like President George Bush, Mayor Rudy Guiliani, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and authors Tom Peters and Stephen Covey.
- Leading In The Dark
Erik Weihenmayer describes the time he and his partner, a much better climber, were caught on a dangerous rock face at nightfall and without working headlamps. In spite of his fear, Weihenmayer knew this was his time to lead his friend down to safety. He believes the most important aspect of leadership is how we pass it on to others. “Leadership is contagious,” he says, “We pass it from body to body, from life to life, and we give all the people around us the courage to do great things.”
- On Innovation: How To Pioneer New Possibilities.
When Erik Weihenmayer realized he’d have trouble hearing teammates call out the timing for important turns while kayaking, he developed a submersible, open mic radio. When he noticed he would need something to assist him with being aware of an impending landing while paragliding, he designed and built a unique bell-and-rope system. Weinhenmayer doesn’t see himself as a risk taker, but as a problem solver and above all, an innovator. He is motivated by a sense of discovery to develop new strategies to make the world, and his adventures within it, safer, more efficient, and more productive. With this talk, he speaks passionately and memorably about finding creative ways to cross the blurry lines between what detractors view as impossible, and what we believe to be possible in our hearts.
- The "No Barriers" Life
hrough Erik’s ground-breaking adventures around the world, he has explored and defined what it means to live a “No Barriers Life,” describing it as a map we build to navigate and to pursue a life that matters. Central to this journey is a mindset to continually challenge ourselves to grow and evolve—in Erik’s words, to “climb” while others “camp.” Erik describes the key components for shattering barriers and pioneering possibilities, which start with a “reach into the darkness” and a powerful vision to guide us through the storm. It takes building a great “rope team” that shares our vision and makes us stronger and relentlessly innovating new systems and approaches along the way. And it takes the drive to lead and elevate others.
As a blind adventurer who has climbed Mt. Everest and kayaked the Grand Canyon, Erik understands better than most that barriers are real, not merely perceived, and that that obstacles encountered can either stop us in our tracks, or we can figure out a way to harness them and propel ourselves to new places that we would never get to in any other way. Erik calls this “alchemy,” the process of turning lead into gold. “With an alchemist,” he says, “you can throw them in the midst of a fierce competitive environment, strip away their resources, throw roadblocks in front of them, and they'll still find a way to win—not despite adversity, but because of it.” Erik will take audiences on a journey to discover the tools and insights to develop what he calls the “No Barriers Mindset”—what it takes for individuals, teams, and organizations to turn into the storm, convert challenges into greatness, and reach for nearly impossible goals.
Shattering Expectations. Erik Weihenmayer inspires audiences to have the vision to dream big, the courage to reach for near impossible goals, and the grit, determination, and ingenuity to transform our lives into something extraordinary. Weihenmayer’s daring adventures have shattered people’s perceptions all over the world about what is humanly possible. As a blind mountain climber, he has faced one of the most arduous tasks man can attempt, with a unique impediment that turned out to be a special gift. He defines vision as “an internal compass guiding us through the storm,” and gives new poignancy to the concept of seeing.
- Teamwork - The Only Way To Cross A Glacier Is With A Rope Team
Erik Weihenmayer speaks with authority on the subject of teamwork. His Mt. Everest expedition holds a world record for the most people from one team to stand atop Everest’s peak in a single day. The key to pursuing his endeavors has been his superb ability to combine his strengths and talents with those of the people around him. He speaks to the importance of working as a team. “People might have different responsibilities, different goals, even motives, but you link together behind one vision. The scope and power of that kind of team is unstoppable.”
- Achievement - Shattering Expectations
Erik Weihenmayer inspires audiences to have the vision to dream big, the courage to reach for near impossible goals, and the grit, determination, and ingenuity to transform our lives into something extraordinary. Weihenmayer’s daring adventures have shattered people’s perceptions all over the world about what is humanly possible. As a blind mountain climber, he has faced one of the most arduous tasks man can attempt, with a unique impediment that turned out to be a special gift. He defines vision as “an internal compass guiding us through the storm,” and gives new poignancy to the concept of seeing.