Erik Weihenmayer (Keynote Speaker)
World-Class Blind Adventurer
Erik Weihenmayer is one of the most sought-after speakers in the world. Despite losing his vision at age 14, he is an accomplished climber, paraglider, skier, and kayaker who never allows blindness to interfere with his passion for pursuing an exhilarating and fulfilling life. Erik brings audiences a powerful message about harnessing the power of adversity as fuel for greatness, emphasizing the importance of building a strong “Rope Team” and illuminating how to develop a “No Barriers Mindset.”
Pioneering Adventurer. In 2001, Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2008, he completed his quest to climb the Seven Summits—the highest mountain on each continent. Additionally, he has ascended dozens of major peaks, rock walls, and ice climbs around the planet including the first blind ascent of the 3,000-foot Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite and an ascent of a rarely climbed 3,000-foot frozen waterfall in Nepal. In 2003, Erik competed in Primal Quest, among the toughest adventure races in the world: 457 miles, 9 days, 60,000 feet of elevation gain, and no time-outs. Averaging only two hours of sleep a night, Erik’s team was one of 42 to cross the finish line out of the 80 elite teams that started. In 2010, he completed the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, with elevations all above 10,000 feet, on a tandem bike, once again becoming the first blind person to complete a world-class competition. And in 2011, Erik’s Team No Limits raced across the deserts and mountains of Morocco for a month, finishing in second place on the ABC reality show Expedition Impossible.
In September 2014, Erik and blinded Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell kayaked the entire 277-miles of the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, considered one of the most formidable whitewater venues in the world.
Celebrated Author. In addition to being a renowned adventurer and speaker, Erik is also the author of several books including Touch the Top of the World, which has been published in 12 languages. The book was made into an A&E movie and released on DVD by Sony. His latest book No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon was released in February 2017, and is an adventure story that illuminates how we move forward in our lives toward growth and purpose – despite the barriers that get in our way.
Humanitarian Outreach. In 2005, Erik co-founded No Barriers USA, a nonprofit organization that helps people of diverse abilities develop a No Barriers Mindset – to attack challenges head on, problem solve, build winning teams, and serve others