My sister gave me “To Touch the Top of the World” as a gift, maybe ten, twelve years ago. “It’s about a blind guy that climbed Mount Everest,” she said. “Super inspiring.”
Cool, I replied, probably with a roll of my eyes, and set it aside. The book sat in my bookcase for the next decade, patiently waiting.
I picked it up the other day, in a moment of boredom, and found myself tearing through it. It is, as my sister said all those years ago, super inspiring.
After living his childhood years with severely limited vision, Erik Weihenmayer finally lost his sight at age 13.
He describes initially raging against his new status as ‘disabled person,’ but eventually comes to realize that although being blind will always mean he has to interact with the world in a different way, it doesn’t mean he has to “accept his own limitations.”
He simply has to find new, creative ways to overcome them.
The highest praise I can give this book is this:
Weihenmayer’s climbing resume is impressive enough that I would read his book even if he wasn’t blind.
He climbed the seven summits; learned to ice climb; kayaked the Grand Canyon; and even led some pitches on El Cap, when he climbed it alongside valley legend Hans Florine. IMpressive accomplishments for anybody. Less than 200 people in all of history have climbed the Seven Summits; and all the rest of them could see. Of course, doing all that he did with his condition goes to show that no matter what cards life deals you, nothing is insurmountable.
Here’s author Erik Weihenmayer on Oprah:
His website, Touch the Top, has all sorts of interesting video clips and multimedia exhibits about Erik’s life (which is still ongoing). He currently lives in Colorado; another of our amazing adopted sons. A particularly cool page is this one, with numerous video clips describing and depicting his groundbreaking blind climb of Mount Everest — the first blind person in history to touch the top of the world.
Everest is relegated to a mere afterword in the book, with the rest of the chapters detailing Erik’s childhood, his college years, and some of his other climbs, such as Denali, Aconcagua, and Kilimanjaro (where he was married).
It’s a good, inspiring read if you are looking for a bit of reassurance about the power of the human spirit.