Erik was born on 1968, with retinoscheses, and was completely blind by the age of 13 due to glaucoma.
He speaks movingly of the role his family played in breaking through the barriers of blindness: his mother, who prayed for the miracle that would restore his son’s sight and his father, who encouraged him to strive for that unreachable peak. Erik recalls his struggles to push past the limits placed before him, by seeing the world as much as by his blindness.
What is most inspiring about his achievements is that Erik has completed his quest to conquer each of the seven summits—the highest peaks of all the continents. And by doing so, he joined a club of a little more than 100 mountaineers who have accomplished this feat.
In May 2001, Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind man to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain—Mount Everest. Additionally, he has scaled El Capitan a 3,300-foot over-hanging rock wall in the Yosemite National Park; Lhosar, a 3000-foot ice waterfall in the Himalayas; and a difficult and rarely climbed rock face on 17,000-foot Mt. Kenya.
Erik’s undaunted spirit of adventure and courage to excel, in a culture which affords very few opportunities for the blind, won him much acclaim. He won the ESPN's ESPY award for the Best Athlete with a Disability in 2002, appeared on the cover of Time magazine in June 2001 following his Everest success, 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, Nike's Casey Martin Award, and the Freedom Foundation's Free Spirit Award. He has also carried the Olympic Torch in both summer and winter games.
Erik is also the author of the book, Touch the Top of the World, published in ten countries and six languages. The book was made into a feature film which aired on A&E in June, 2006. Erik's second book, The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles Into Everyday Greatness, co-authored with Dr. Paul Stoltz, was released in January, 2007.
Erik has also appeared on NBC's Today Show and Nightly News, Oprah, Good Morning America, Nightline, and the Tonight Show, to name a few T.V. shows.
As a motivational speaker, Erik has traveled around the world and shared the platform with many other international dignitaries. Erik also serves as a National Braille Literacy Champion on behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind.
Erik's award winning film, Farther Than the Eye Can See, was ranked in the top twenty adventure films of all time by Men's Journal. It bagged the first prize at 19 film festivals and was nominated for two Emmy's.
Despite losing his sight at the age of 13, Erik has never let his blindness interfere with his passion for an exhilarating and fulfilling life. He is a happily married man and has a daughter.
Erik Weihenmayer continues to live an adventurous life and sets a living example to prove that you need not have perfect sight to have an extraordinary vision.