Cover image for Touch the top of the world : a blind man's journey to climb farther than the eye can see
Touch the top of the world : a blind man's journey to climb farther than the eye can see
Weihenmayer, Erik.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2001]

Physical Description:
304 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.1 19.0 55312.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV199.92.W39 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV199.92.W39 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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The incredible, inspiring story of world-class climber Erik Weihenmayer, from the terrible diagnosis that foretold of the loss of his eyesight, to his dream to climb mountains, and finally his quest to reach each of the Seven Summits.Erik Weihenmayer was born with retinoscheses, a degenerative eye disorder that would progressively unravel his retinas. Erik learned from doctors that he was destined to lose his sight by age thirteen. Yet from early on, he was determined to rise above this devastating disability and lead a fulfilling, exciting life. In Touch the Top of the World, Erik recalls his struggle to push past the limits placed on him by his visual impairment--and by a seeing world. He speaks movingly of the role his family played in his battle to break through the barriers of blindness: the mother who prayed for the miracle that would restore her son's sight; the father who encouraged him to strive for that unreachable mountaintop. Erik was the first blind man to summit McKinley. Soon he became the first blind person to scale the infamous 3000-foot rock wall of El Capitan and then Argentina's Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of Asia. He was married to his longtime sweetheart at 13,000 feet on the Shira Plateau on his way to Kilimanjaro's summit, and recently Erik scaled Polar Circus, the 30,000-foot vertical ice wall in Alberta, Canada. Erik's story is about having the vision to dream big; the courage to reach for near impossible goals; and the grit, determination, and ingenuity to transform our lives into "something miraculous."To download an audio excerpt from Touch the Top of the World, visit the American Foundation for the Blind Web site.

Author Notes

Erik Weihenmayer is a world-class athlete: acrobatic skydiver, long distance biker and marathon runner, skier, mountaineer, ice climber, and rock climber. Erik was the first blind man to summit McKinley, scale the infamous 3,300-foot rock wall of El Capitan and then Argentina's Aconcagua. He was married to his longtime sweet-heart at 13,000 feet on Kilimanjaro. He is on course to reach all Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent. He lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here's an exciting, one-of-a-kind memoir that should appeal to lovers of man-against-nature adventure stories. The author has jumped from airplanes, bicycled distances that tested the limits of his endurance, run a marathon, and scaled some of the world's highest peaks. As if that weren't enough, he has been blind since he was a teenager. To reach the summit of Mount McKinley or El Capitan is achievement enough; it seems almost inconceivable that a blind man could do so. But the author is clearly a remarkable man, and he makes us believe that we, too, can do the virtually impossible, if we're determined enough. He looks back on his life, on his struggle to do what most of us could not summon the bravery to attempt, and we cannot help but admire him. He never presents himself as a hero, but his accomplishments speak for themselves. The word inspiring is used far too often in book reviews, but here is one case where it really is appropriate. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this moving and adventure-packed memoir, Weihenmayer begins with his gradual loss of sight as a very young child. By the time he became fully blind in high school, he had already developed the traits that would carry him to the summits of some of the world's highest mountains as well as onto the frequently hazardous slopes of daily life: charm, resilience, a sense of humor, a love of danger and a concern for others. His eloquent memoir exhibits all these traits. WeihenmayerÄa thrill seeker who skydives, climbs mountains and skisÄdevotes the first half of the book to his adolescence, punctuated by his loss of sight, his mother's sudden death and his diligent efforts not only to pick up girls, but first to figure out which ones were attractive. With its many tales of pranks, adventures and the talents of his guide dog, this half alone is worth the price of admission. He goes on to chronicle his young adulthood, including his teaching career and his passion for climbing, seeded during a month-long skills camp for blind adolescents and blossoming on his harrowing ascent of Mount McKinley. He describes fearsome ascents of KilimanjaroÄwith his fianc‚e, so they can be married near the crater summitÄEl Capitan and Aconcagua's Polish Glacier. Weihenmayer tells his extraordinary story with humor, honesty and vivid detail, and his fortitude and enthusiasm are deeply inspiring. With the insightful intimacy of Tom Sullivan's classic If You Could See What I Hear and the intensity of the best adventure narratives, Weihenmayer's story will appeal to a broad audience. (Feb. 14) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Weihenmayer is an extraordinary individual, adventurer, and athlete. On their own, his exploits as a mountain climber would be sufficient material for an exciting book, but there's an additional element Weihenmayer is blind. He began to lose his sight as a child, owing to a degenerative eye disorder, and was totally blind by his teens. Added to this trauma was the death of his mother in an automobile accident. The onset of blindness and the loss of a beloved parent might have destroyed a less resilient individual, but Weihenmayer has been able to turn his frustrations and fears into positive accomplishments. He has scaled the 3000' wall of El Capitan in Yosemite, made it to the top of Argentina's Aconcagua, climbed the vertical ice wall of Alberta, Canada's Polar Circus, and plans an ascent of Mt. Everest in March 2001. Oh, yes, he also married his longtime sweetheart on the Shira Plateau of Mt. Kilimanjaro (which he summited) in 1997 and became the father of a daughter in 2000. Weihenmayer recounts all of these climbing experiences as well as his childhood struggle to deal with the onset of blindness and his efforts to obtain employment. This inspirational story is highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/00.] Janet Ross, Sparks Branch Lib., NV (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: McKinley's Kahiltna Glacierp. 1
1. Quasimodop. 9
2. A World In-Betweenp. 33
3. Helplessnessp. 48
4. Faint Recognitionp. 62
5. Blind Warriorsp. 79
6. Wizard, the Chick Magnetp. 99
7. Flailing to Independencep. 109
8. Perceptionsp. 125
9. Thirty Sets of Eyesp. 135
10. Blind Faithp. 142
11. Preparationp. 155
12. Zero Zerop. 169
13. "Big" Changesp. 200
14. Uhurup. 210
15. Moving Through Darknessp. 221
16. The Nosep. 243
17. The Slag Heapp. 258
18. I Did Not Diep. 274
19. The Song of the Sirensp. 280
Epiloguep. 301
Special Thanksp. 305