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Author Topic: Blind climber for 7 summits in 2002  (Read 9144 times)

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Blind climber for 7 summits in 2002
« on: Jun 26 2002, 22:31 »

News story about the blind climbers on Everest


Not just another mountain to climb
Candus Thomson -- On the Outdoors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally published June 16, 2002

Clint Eastwood probably said it best: "A man's got to know his limitations."

Maurice Peret and Chris Warner, who braved Mount Everest in different ways last year, are still searching for that outer boundary.
Warner reached the summit of Everest in June, then three months later became the first American to solo-climb Shishapangma in a 33-hour Himalayan endurance test. Now, the Baltimore County man is on his way to Pakistan's K2, at 28,250 feet the world's second-highest mountain and considered by many the toughest to climb.

Dispatches from his expedition, which is expected to push for the top in late July or early August, will be on The Sun's Web site: www.sunspot.net.

Last year, while Erik Weihenmayer pushed to the top of the 29,036-foot mountain and secured a place in history, Peret was "the other blind guy on Everest." He helped handle communications at base camp. Now, he's back at his job as outreach coordinator for the rehabilitation department at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland.

This weekend, he's waiting to hear if Weihenmayer reaches the summit of 18,513-foot Mount Elbrus in Russia. Success will leave Weihenmayer one mountain shy of climbing the so-called "Seven Summits," the highest peak on each continent.

"In some ways, it seems like a long time ago," says Peret of the Everest expedition. "I don't give it a whole lot of thought until someone mentions it."

Of course they still do. Civic and social service groups in Maryland and Pennsylvania have created a second career for the Baltimore resident as a motivational speaker. He's pretty good at it, too.

"It wasn't just about one blind guy climbing a mountain," Peret says. "We weren't carried up there. We participated equally in the expedition, and hopefully that changed people's perception of blind people and their accomplishments."
For Peret -- a regular guy, a smoker and a social drinker -- getting from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp at 17,500 feet was not just a walk in the park.

Above 7,000 feet or so, most folks have trouble breathing the thin air. It has been likened to trying to suck air through a soda straw. Then there's rocks and drop-offs and Indiana Jones-style bridges -- tricky business, even for someone with sight.
The National Federation of the Blind, sponsor of the expedition, asked Peret last spring whether he wanted a piece of the action.

"Mount Everest was the furthest thing from my mind," he says, laughing. "But I thought, 'How can I ask my students to cross a busy street, to go across town, to get on a bus, when I was presented with an opportunity and I didn't take a risk?' I didn't think I could remain an effective teacher."

So he gave up smoking and took up jogging.
He worried that failure might give a boost to the stereotype of the helpless cripple.
"I didn't have a lot of expectations. There were so many unknown factors," he says matter-of-factly. "Was I going to find a limitation of my own, and would it be a physical barrier or would it be my blindness?"
Peret wasn't alone. Weihenmayer, an accomplished mountaineer, skier, sky diver and runner, was hearing from skeptics in the climbing community.

Ed Viesturs, America's most celebrated climber, who has reached the summit of Everest five times, said that though he admired Weihenmayer, "I wouldn't want to take him up there myself. ... When I guide, I like people to become self-sufficient. With Erik, they'll have to be helping him, watching out for him every step of the way."
Jon Krakauer, author of the best seller Into Thin Air, tried to dissuade Weihenmayer in a letter: "It's not that I doubt you have what it takes to reach the summit. ... It's just that I don't think you can get to the top of that particular hill without subjecting yourself to horrendous risk, the same horrendous risk all Everest climbers face, and then some."
Then, there was the flip side of the coin. One respected guide told the blind climbers: "Let's be honest here. I'll have clients come up to me and say, 'If a blind guy can do it, how hard can it be?' "

The criticism steeled Weihenmayer but shook Peret, the novice. "It wasn't in the bag," he says. "I had to go on faith."
An atheist, Peret acknowledges that he was running a faith deficit. A trip to Nepal seemed like it might awaken an interest in Buddhism and fill the void.
Instead, he found the trip "consolidated and deepened my Christianity and faith in God. The trip was kind of an answered prayer for me."

Peret funneled information to the climbers above and sent dispatches back home to the media and the expedition's supporters. He also made another contribution to the expedition, one he is proud to talk about.

"I had a nagging preoccupation with fulfilling my end of the bargain. I was always worried people were wondering, 'Who invited him, anyway?' " Peret says, wrinkling up his nose.

Usually one of the funniest people in any situation, Peret was overshadowed by a community of raucous, swashbuckling climbers.
One night after dinner, Peret brought out his guitar and improvised "The Dul-bot Blues," which lamented the abundance of the Sherpa specialty of lentils and rice that was wreaking intestinal havoc in camp. The song impressed Weihenmayer, who included it in the latest edition of his book, Touching the Top of the World.
"I was able to provide some entertainment and levity and contribute to something we could all enjoy," he recalls.

On May 24 last year, Weihenmayer reached the summit of Everest, the first blind man to accomplish the feat and one of 19 from his expedition to do so that day -- also a record.
"There was a lot of pride, a lot of emotion, a lot of tears," he says. "You just knew history was being made."
Weihenmayer isn't finished making history. In September, he hopes to climb Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, concluding the "Seven Summits"adventure he started in 1995 with Mount McKinley in Alaska.

When asked if there's another mountain in his future, Peret laughs and says, "People ask me all the time. Of course, I always say, 'No.' "
But Everest is an experience that changed him.
"The culture, the qualities of brotherhood and fellowship, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose. Personally, those were the most important parts for me," he says.
He says he's a stronger father to 3-year-old Luc and husband to Leigh Anne, and a more patient counselor at work.

"There will be a lot of tests and adventures that won't be as big as Everest, but challenges far greater and more important than Everest was," he says.
"Does a man have to know his limitations? Yes. But I think there's something innate in us that makes us want to push through and surpass our limitations."

(from sunspot)
« Last Edit: Jun 26 2002, 22:34 by 7summits »
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Re:Blind climber for 7 summits in 2002
« Reply #1 on: Jun 27 2002, 03:23 »

Some more info for all of you interested in Erik Weihenmayer:

Blind Mountain Climber Sets Off for Mt. Elbrus as Part of Seven Summits Quest Erik Weihenmayer Begins Final Phase of Historic Expedition
6/4/02


BRIDGEWATER, N.J., Jun 4, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Erik Weihenmayer today embarks on his quest to join an elite group of approximately 100 athletes who have climbed the Seven Summits -- the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents -- with the support and sponsorship of Allegra(R) (fexofenadine HCl) 180 mg once daily and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). With only two summits to go, Weihenmayer and the Allegra-NFB 2002 Elbrus Expedition team set out today to attempt Weihenmayer's sixth summit, Mt. Elbrus, which is the tallest peak in Europe. Last year, Weihenmayer made history when he became the first blind mountain climber to summit Mt. Everest. For more information on Weihenmayer and to follow the Allegra-NFB 2002 Elbrus Expedition, consumers can log on to http://www.SevenSummitsExpedition.com.
"I want my climb of the Seven Summits to shatter the limited perceptions many have of the potential of blind people," said Weihenmayer. "In dramatizing the limitless possibilities which exist for each of us, these climbs hopefully will inspire all people to reach for their own summits."

Weihenmayer has already scaled Denali/McKinley in North America (1995), Kilimanjaro in Africa (1997), Aconcagua in South America (1997), Vinson Massif in Antarctica (2001) and Everest in Asia (2001). After Elbrus, Weihenmayer will head to Papua for his seventh and final summit attempt -- Carstensz Pyramid.

The Seven Summits: The Challenge of a Lifetime

Approximately 100 people, including 30 Americans have climbed the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents, making Weihenmayer's journey even more amazing as he attains one of the greatest achievements in sports history. The Seven Summits include: Everest (29,029 ft.), Aconcagua (22,840 ft.), Denali/McKinley (20,320 ft.), Kilimanjaro (19,339 ft.), Elbrus (18,510 ft.), Vinson Massif (16,067 ft.) and Carstensz Pyramid (16,023 ft.).

Weihenmayer and His Journey

Weihenmayer started climbing after losing his sight at the age of thirteen to a degenerative eye disease. He has climbed some of the most technical peaks in the world, shattering the perceived limitations of people who are blind. And, if conditions are right, Weihenmayer will continue to shatter perceptions by skiing down Elbrus after his summit.

During training for the Seven Summits this year, Weihenmayer recognized that his seasonal allergy symptoms could be very distracting in a precision sport like climbing. Weihenmayer, a seasonal allergy sufferer, sought advice from his health care provider to treat his symptoms effectively so they would not interfere with his training and expeditions.

"On the mountain, I usually face flowers and tree pollens that can trigger my seasonal allergy symptoms. My runny nose and itchy eyes can often be distracting when I'm climbing, so to keep those symptoms in check, I take Allegra(R) (fexofenadine HCl) 180 mg once daily," said Weihenmayer. "Allegra is non-sedating, and in my line of work, I recognize the importance of taking a non-sedating antihistamine to manage my symptoms."

About Mt. Elbrus

Mt. Elbrus, located in the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, is the tallest peak in Europe -- standing at 18,510 feet. Mt. Elbrus is located in the Caucasus mountain range and is known by locals as "Ash-Gamakho," which means "happiness-bringing mountain." The slopes of Elbrus are covered with glaciers. In fact, it is one of the most glaciated peaks in the world with more than 70 glaciers spilling from its slopes. While glaciers cover the top of this mountain range, the lower valleys and mountain slopes of the Caucasus are covered with pine forests and flower-filled meadows.

About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind is a consumer-based organization of more than 50,000 blind people throughout the U.S. Its primary purpose is to change what it means to be blind by changing people's attitudes about blindness.

About Allegra Aventis Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Allegra(R) (fexofenadine HCl) 180 mg tablets, supports Weihenmayer because he is a seasonal allergy sufferer who inspires others not to let obstacles stand in the way of their goals.

Allegra (fexofenadine HCl) 180 mg once daily is a powerful, safe and effective non-sedating antihistamine for the treatment of seasonal allergy symptoms in patients 12 years and older. Side effects with Allegra 180 mg once daily tablets are low and may include headache, cold or back pain. For additional product information log on to http://www.Allegra.com.

About Aventis

Aventis Pharmaceuticals conducts the U.S. prescription drug business of Aventis. With headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J., Aventis Pharmaceuticals focuses its activities on important therapeutic areas such as cardiology, oncology, anti-infectives, arthritis, allergy and respiratory, diabetes, and the central nervous system.

Aventis (NYSE: AVE) is dedicated to improving life by treating and preventing human disease through the discovery and development of innovative pharmaceutical products. Aventis focuses on prescription drugs for important therapeutic areas such as oncology, cardiology, diabetes and respiratory disorders as well as on human vaccines. In 2001, Aventis generated sales of euro 17.7 billion ($15.9 billion), invested approx. euro 3 billion ($2.7 billion) in research and development and employed approximately 75,000 people in its core business. Aventis corporate headquarters are in Strasbourg, France. For more information, please visit: http://www.aventis.com.

Statements in this news release other than historical information are forward-looking statements subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially depending on factors such as the availability of resources, the timing and effects of regulatory actions, the strength of competition, the outcome of litigation, and the effectiveness of patent protection. Additional information regarding risks and uncertainties is set forth in the current Annual Report on Form 20-F of Aventis on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Aventis Pharmaceuticals



CONTACT:          Lisa Kennedy, +1-908-243-6361, or Melissa Feltmann,
                 +1-908-243-7080, both of Aventis Pharmaceuticals

URL:              http://www.aventis.com
http://www.prnewswire.com

Copyright (C) 2002 PR Newswire.  All rights reserved.


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Re:Blind climber for 7 summits in 2002: 6 down, 1 to go!
« Reply #2 on: Jun 27 2002, 03:30 »

Well, he made it up Elbrus! 6 down, 1 to go...

Erik Weihenmayer Makes History by Reaching the Summit of Mt. Elbrus
Posted on: 2002-06-18


Erik Weihenmayer (center) and members of the Allegra-NFB 2002 Elbrus Expedition Team summit Mt. Elbrus in RussiaThe (Photo by Didrik Johnck.)  



On June 13, Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountaineer who made history last May when he climbed Mt. Everest, reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus, the tallest peak in Europe, standing at 18,510 feet in the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. Allegra-NFB 2002 Elbrus Expedition marks a phenomenal sixth summit attempt for Erik, bringing him one step closer to achieving his goal of becoming the first blind person to climb the Seven Summits - the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. After reaching the summit of Mt. Elbrus, Erik courageously skied the mountainís descent, which is one of the most glaciated peaks in the world with more than 70 glaciers spilling from its slopes. After reaching the summit of Mt. Elbrus, Erik courageously skied the mountainís glaciated descent.

In addition to mountain climbing, Erik Weihenmayer is an acrobatic skydiver, long distance biker, marathon runner, motivational speaker and teacher. Erik lost his sight at the age of 13 to a degenerative eye disease. His blindness has not stopped him from climbing some of the most technically challenging peaks in the world, shattering the perceived limitations of people who are blind.

In 1995, Erik embarked on the Seven Summit quest to join an elite group of approximately 100 athletes, including 30 Americans, to climb all Seven Summits. Erikís first summit was Mt. Denali/McKinley in North America (20,320 ft.), followed by Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,339 ft.), and South Americaís Mt. Aconcagua (22,840 ft.). In 2001, Erik mastered both Mt. Vinson Massif (16,067 ft.) in Antarctica and Mt. Everest (29,029 ft.) in Asia. In reaching the summit of Mt. Elbrus, Erik is one step closer to completing his eight-year journey. His final summit attempt will be this fall at Carstensz Pyramid in Papua, making him the first blind person to climb the Seven Summits.

For more information, updates and photos, visit Erik's website at www.TouchTheTop.com


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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
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