Blind Adventurist Hopes To Win ‘Expedition: Impossible’

by | June 28, 2011 at 9:48 AM | TV News

Erik Weihenmayer (ABC)

Erik Weihenmayer (ABC)

The first blind man to reach the top of Mount Everest now hopes to emerge as the winner of ABC’s exciting — and dangerous — reality series “Expedition: Impossible” (Thursdays, 9/8c).

Erik Weihenmayer, 42, is part of three-man team called No Limits, which will have to cross vast deserts, kayak dangerous rapids and repel down 300 foot cliffs in Morocco to grab the $150,000 grand prize.

“The only thing Erik required help in completing were situations that required him to read,” producer Mark Burnett says.  “Everything else — he had a great team around him.  It is amazing that here is a blind guy riding an Arabian stallion or riding a camel.  It really is inspiring.

“I felt like if any blind person is going to have a chance on this, it would be Erik.  And I felt it would be extremely inspiring to ordinary people to believe that they could have some of these adventures.”

Weihenmayer, a former school teacher from Boulder, Colorado, lost his sight at the age of 13 to a rare eye disease call retinal skesis.

“I had a gene missing, basically, and the pressure in my eyes built up and made the retina split away from my eyes, so I lost my vision over a matter of three or four years,” the father of two tells XFinityTV.  “I have been totally blind for 25 years.”

Watch Erik’s Team Compete In The Series Premiere Of “Expedition: Impossible”:

Did you have to go through training before you got to Morocco?
We had to do a swimming test and a psychological test to make sure you weren’t going to go crazy on the show.  Just lots of discussions and so forth and interviews.  Medical stuff.  I wasn’t so worried about the physical stuff.  I know I can achieve most things in the outdoors, but I need some time to figure out and problem solve my way through them.

How much harder is this competition for you – not being able to see?
I can’t just get on a single bike and cruise over the mountains.  I need a tandem bike.  If I am kayaking, if there is really loud whitewater, I need some really loud, waterproof radio so people can talk to me when I am in the middle of those rapids.  So for me there is a little more preparation that goes in to being able to do well in the outdoors.

Any brushes with disaster out there?
Every day I was on the race, I was glad to have survived.  I was really worried.  I didn’t think I would get killed.  But there was definitely risk in that things could happen.  You are kayaking whitewater and creeks where there is a 3 or 4 foot white gauntlet.  And you have got to aim your kayak through that.  It’s a quick left and a quick right and if not, you are going to smack into a boulder and swim. So I was glad to survive that stuff.

Any issues with the camels?
Camels are about the scariest thing I have ever done.  I think riding camels is scarier than climbing Everest.  I was terrified on those camels one day when they tried to kill me.  There are definitely some scary moments on these camels where I thought they were going crazy and were going to throw me off on my head.

Tell us more about you — are you married?
I have been married 14 years.  Its funny, I live a pretty boring life.  Other than some of these crazy adventures I get to do.

And you have two kids?
My daughter Emma just turned 11. And my son Argent just turned 9.  We brought Argent home from Nepal three years ago.  I climbed Everest and did a bunch of Himalayan climbing and also better than all the mountains I got to climb, I got to bring home a kid.

Is your daughter adopted?
No.

What else do you do?
I sit at my computer and email and work and write.  I have written a couple of books and made 3 or 4 adventure documentaries.  I get out and train once a day.  I like mountain biking and rock climbing.  I like kayaking.  So some of the stuff we were doing at the race.

Any mountains left to climb?
I have been getting at it for 20 years, but I have still only climbed… you never even climbed 1 percent of the mountains that exist out there.  I will run out of cartilage before I run out of mountains.  I have a lot of goals left.  I would like to kayak the Grand Canyon.  I am 42, so I have some good years ahead of me.

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