Mount Everest, located in the Himalayas of Southern Asia, is the highest mountain in the world, reaching 29,035 feet (8,850 meters). Its climate is extreme with temperatures at the peak never rising above freezing. Imagine spending more than two months of your life trekking across stretches of ice that shift and crumble beneath you, balancing above 1,000-foot-deep crevasses, and climbing vertical stretches while microwave-size chunks of rock and ice fall around you, all in a attempt to reach the highest ground on earth.
     Now, imagine attempting such a feat without being able to see where your feet will step next or the obstacles that lay in your path. That's exactly what 33-year-old Erik Weihenmayer, who has been blind since he was 13, started out to do in March of 2001 with the help of expert mountain guide Michael O'Donnell.

 


 

An accomplished mountain climber, Erik had been conquering arduous summits such as Denali, Kilimanjaro in Africa, and Aconcagua in Argentina since his early 20's. But, tackling Mount Everest was only a dream until Erik met 47-year-old Pasquale Scaturro, a veteran of seven Himalayan expeditions, at a sportswear tradeshow in Salt Lake City, Utah.
      Pasquale convinced Erik that he could make history by becoming the first blind climber to reach the peak of Mount Everest, turning his dream into a reality. Together, Pasquale and Erik assembled a world-class team of 19 climbers who would each attempt to scale the peak. In order to tackle Mount Everest, Erik knew he not only needed to assemble a skilled team of climbers to guide him up the mountain, but a solid plan of action as well. That's where Michael O'Donnell, technical climbing expert, entered the picture.

 

 

On May 25, 2001, after nearly 3 months of painstaking and grueling climbing, each of the exhausted 19 team members had achieved their ultimate goal - to climb the highest mountain on earth! And together, they made history.
      Not only was their team the first to include a blind climber, but it also included 64-year-old Sherman Bull, the oldest man to ever reach the summit of Mount Everest. Bull made the climb with his son Brad, making the pair the second father-son team to ever make the ascent. Ordinarily an Everest expedition considers itself fortunate to have two or three team members make it to the top - the group had 19!

 
  "To the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside, that
it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive..."
Badlands, Bruce Springsteen

"Do the thing you fear the most.."
Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 


 
 


     

 

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Michael O'Donnell
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