On September 26th, 2016, Eric Weihenmayer climbed Yosemite’s largest formation once again. El Capitan has a long and storied climbing history, from the eccentric winos of the 50s and 60s to the modern day super-athletes climbing it in a day, or even just a few hours. It is a legendary formation that looms over Yosemite Valley commanding respect from climbers and non-climbers alike. But it didn’t receive its first blind ascent until Weihenmayer climbed The Nose in 1996.
Weihenmayer wasn’t born blind, as a teenager he developed juvenile retinoschisis and quickly lost his vision. He immediately showed that this would never slow him down and he has become virtually unstoppable in his global pursuit of adventure. 30+ years later he has ticked off an impressive climbing resume including:
But his pursuits and ambitions haven’t been limited to only climbing. He placed 2nd in the Leadville 100, an endurance mountain bike race that takes place primarily above 10,000’. And he has kayaked 277 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
That’s why it was no surprise to us when he sent The East Buttress of El Capitan, IV 5.10b, last month in a very respectable 8 hours. While a much shorter route than The Nose, at 1,500′, the blind man was able to free climb the route in its entirety by taking verbal cues from his partners. In fact, the two teams of two, including some of Yosemite’s finest, overtook and passed another sighted team high on the route.
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