Author, adventurer Erik Weihenmayer to speak in Vail on March 21
If you go …
What: “No Barriers,” with Erik Weihenmayer.
When: Tuesday, March 21; 6 p.m. doors open, 6:30 p.m. program.
Where: Donovan Pavilion, 1600 South Frontage Road W., Vail.
Cost: Free, $10 suggested donation.
More information: Although the program is free, preregistration is required at http://www.vailsymposium.org.
VAIL — Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind man to reach the summit of Mount Everest and, most recently, to descend the Grand Canyon in a solo kayak. Weihenmayer, who has lived a life of extraordinary details, will speak on Tuesday, March 21, about his journeys since the great Everest expedition.
The program is part of the Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure Series, which is presented by the Vail Public Library and is organized in collaboration with The Bookworm of Edwards. The event is free to attend.
“It’s really a privilege to have the support of the Vail Public Library and to work with The Bookworm of Edwards to bring such a spectacular story to town,” said Kris Sabel, executive director of the Vail Symposium. “Erik’s life and stories are truly inspirational and resonate with our adventurous community.”
The program will be held at Donovan Pavilion; doors open at 6 p.m., and the program begins at 6:30 p.m. Copies of Weihenmayer’s new book, “No Barriers,” will be for sale.
“Barriers are real,” Weihenmayer said. “They sometimes get in our way and knock us flat on our backs. Living a ‘no barriers life’ means finding a way through those barriers to pursue a life that truly matters.”
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On May 25, 2001, Weihenmayer became the only blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2008, he climbed Carstensz Pyramid on the island of Papua New Guinea, completing the Seven Summits, the highest points on every continent. This accomplishment closed the circuit on a 13-year journey that had begun with his 1995 ascent of Denali in Alaska.
As word spread about his achievements, the world took notice; shortly after his summit of Everest, he was honored with a Time magazine cover story detailing his conquest of the world’s highest peak. Since then, he has authored multiple books, including his memoir, “Touch the Top of the World.”
Even as Retinoschisis began to rob him of his vision by the age of 13, Weihenmayer resisted the idea that blindness would sweep him to the sidelines of life. He established himself as a formidable wrestler in high school, representing his home state of Connecticut in the National Junior Freestyle Wrestling Championship in Iowa. As a teenager, he also discovered rock climbing and a natural dexterity for the tactile aspects of scanning the rock with his hands and feet for holds.
It was atop the highest point in North America, the mountain known in the native Inuit language as Denali, where his quest for adventure began to take shape. Weihenmayer’s triumphs over some of the world’s most formidable mountains were fueling a growing aspiration to take the lessons he learned in the mountains to help others shatter barriers in their lives.
To advance this idea, Weihenmayer co-founded a movement called No Barriers. The mission is to help people with challenges — all of us, to some extent — to turn into the storm of life, face barriers head on, embrace a pioneering and innovative spirit and team up with great people to live lives rich in meaning and purpose.
The motto is “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.” To this aim, Weihenmayer continues to challenge himself to live a no barriers life, and in September 2014, he kayaked the entire 277 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
To learn more about Weihenmayer and his organization, visit http://www.nobarriersusa.org.