When he reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 24, 2001, Eric Weihenmayer became the first blind man to scale the highest mountain in the world. An experienced mountaineer, Weihenmayer had already climbed four of the Seven Summits (the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents). With his Everest ascent, some are calling him this generation's Helen Keller, a role model for blind people.
Weihenmayer was born with a rare genetic disease, retinoschisis, which left him totally blind when he was 13. But instead of giving up his love of sports, he began wrestling and became one of his high school team's star players. He discovered his passion for climbing at age 16. Weihenmayer is also an active skier, marathon runner, and sky and scuba diver.
Weihenmayer married his wife, Ellie Reeve, atop Mount Kilimanjaro in 1997. The couple live in Denver with their daughter, Emma. Describing his Everest climb to ABC News, Weihenmayer said the goal was "not just to stick a blind person on top like a sack of potatoes but to prove a blind person can be a part of a real team. You're a climber first and a blind person second."
Read the magazine's cover story on Weihenmayer's adventure, complete with pictures.
Touch the Top of the World
Read an excerpt of Weihenmayer's book, "Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See."