Last week, I was fortunate to travel to Colorado and interview the most inspirational man I’ve ever met for a magazine story and a short film we’re creating at the nonprofit land conservation org I work for. The interview was with Erik Weihenmayer, an extreme adventurer who has climbed Everest as well as all Seven Summits (the highest peak on each continent). 348 other people have also accomplished this feat, but Erik stands out amongst them. Because Erik also happens to be blind.
On the plane to Colorado I had time to read Erik’s book, Adversity Advantage. It’s all about how the greatest setbacks, difficulties, and adversities you face in life can also be the exact things that, when faced head-on and harnessed, inspire you to “everyday greatness.” This was certainly the case for Erik, who went blind at the age of 13. He also lost his mother to a car accident two years later. That’s enough to crush most people. But instead of succumbing to his adversity and checking out of life, Erik harnessed it and went on to become one of the most inspirational and influential adventurers of our time. He learned to hike and climb–he even whitewater kayaks–without the advantage of sight and now lives a more active, adventurous life than most people can even imagine. He made the impossible possible and motivates people to do the same. Not to mention the incredible things he has done for the disabled community through his No Barriers organization and Wounded Warriors.