[AI] CONFRONTED BY A MOUNTAIN

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 13:05:00 EDT 2008


CONFRONTED BY A MOUNTAIN
by Ronald E. Milliman

What does a blind person do when confronted by a mountain? For Erik 
Weihenmayer, the answer is very simple: "You just climb it!" Erik lost his 
sight at
age 13, but with the support of his parents, he has become the first, and 
only, blind person to scale the highest mountains on all seven continents. 
In
1985, Erik learned to climb at a summer camp for the blind, and he has been 
climbing ever since.

In 1995, Erik reached the peak of Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska, and in 
1996, he scaled the top of California's El Capitan. Then, in 1997, he 
accomplished
the greatest feat of all by getting married to his wife, Ellen Reeve, on 
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania! Later, in 1997, Erik reached the zenith of 
Mount
Kilimanjaro. He climbed to the peak of Argentina's Aconcagua in 1999 and to 
the top of Canada's Polar Circus in 2000. Later that same year, he conquered
Nepal's Ama Dablam as a part of his training for the Everest climb. In March 
2001, Erik began his Mount Everest expedition and completed that feat of 
topping
Mount Everest on May 25. He tackled and conquered Russia's Mount Elbrus in 
2002, and later that same year, he scaled Australia's Mount Kosciusko. More
recently, in 2006, he went to Africa to complete an expedition that took him 
and his mountain- climbing team to the top of 17,300-foot Mount Kenya.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erik about his latest excursion 
to Tibet where he and a group of six blind teenagers scaled Mount Everest.
They climbed to a height of over 21,000 feet. The accomplishment is captured 
by his latest documentary, "BlindSight." The movie is set against the 
breathtaking
backdrop of the Himalayas, and follows the riveting adventure of Erik, his 
team of specialists, and six Tibetan teens who set out to climb the 
23,000-foot
Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest. The movie fully describes how 
Erik and his team went to Tibet to visit a school for the blind and 
recruited
a group of six teenagers who wanted, and were willing, to attempt to scale 
Mount Everest with Erik's tutelage.

"BlindSight" was released last month and is fully audio described. I had the 
pleasure of previewing the movie and found it fascinating. It reveals how 
Erik
was invited to the school for the blind in Tibet by the school's students 
and creator, Sabriye Tenberken, who is also a blind educator. Sabriye is 
from
Germany, where she tried to join Germany's equivalent of the Peace Corps 
when she turned 18, and was rejected because of her blindness. She migrated 
on
her own from Germany to Tibet, where she went from village to village 
locating blind children. She then established a school for the blind, and 
taught
them how to read and write braille.

The movie delineates the extraordinary challenges and tribulations faced by 
the six teens, including how one of them had been sold by his parents to 
become
a beggar on the streets and eventually ended up at the Tibetan school for 
the blind. Believed by many Tibetans to be possessed by demons, the blind 
children
are shunned by their relatives and villagers, and generally rejected by the 
society in which they live. "BlindSight" depicts how these six teenagers 
are,
literally, rescued by Sabriye Tenberken, and shown how to achieve their 
tallest challenges by Erik and his team of expert mountain climbers.

Climbing tall mountains isn't the only thing Erik does. He is also a 
long-distance cyclist, skydiver, accomplished snow skier, a marathon runner, 
former
middle-school teacher, wrestling coach, and author of two books. His 
mountain-climbing adventures are also featured in another documentary, 
"Farther than
the Eye Can See" (2003).

I urge you to make an effort to see this movie. I believe you will enjoy it 
as much as I did, especially since it is audio-described. Watch for it in 
your
area, and if there is a theater near you that has descriptive audio 
capability, contact them and ask if they will show the movie. This could 
also be an
excellent documentary for universities and colleges to show as a part of 
their various diversity programs. Theaters interested in showing this movie 
should
contact Richard Abramowitz at (914) 273-9545 or e-mail him at 
abramorama at aol.com.





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