Returns From His Goodwill Tour In Europe
Upcoming: Two Seventh Summits Plus Para-Gliding
returned Friday from a 12-day goodwill tour of
U.S., RAF, and NATO bases in Europe, highlighted
by a visit with troops and families at Ramstein
Air Base, Germany, home of the 86th Airlift Wing
and Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
There, with spectacular visuals, he described his
dream of climbing the Seven Summits, a quest which
began in 1995 when he became the first blind man
to stand on top of McKinley in Alaska.
Erik and his climbing
partner, Kevin Cherilla, also met with students and
parents at the Ramstein Library, where Erik
demonstrated his talking computer and other technology
equipment, and discussed and read passages from his
book, Touch the Top of the World. Afterward, they were
privileged to spend time with Lt. General Glen "Wally"
Moorhead, Vice Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
Erik did live and
taped interviews for Air Forces Network, and was a
front-page story in the Stars & Stripes., the mostly
military newspaper with the broadest geographic
distribution in the world. He visited a German
Shepherd drug and bomb training unit; Eriks own
German Shepherd, his guidedog Seigo, did not accompany
him on this trip. And he met a graduate of his Weston
High School in Connecticut, one class behind, who was
there with yearbook in hand for Erik to sign.
Erik and Kevin
maintained a vigorous workout schedule, and had many
opportunities to use indoor and outdoor climbing
facilities, where they gave rock climbing
demonstrations for students and adults. In Germany, at
one youth center, more than one hundred participants
climbed the wall blindfolded as Erik signed autographs
and Kevin belayed the climbers.
though, was their 8-pitch climb of Bell Tower, a 1000
pinnacle of limestone in the Dolomites in the Italian
Alps, with Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot J. D.
Smith, who had contacted Erik in advance of the tour
and made special arrangements with the trip
Erik and Kevin made
the tour in gratitude for the service of American
military personnel and their families overseas who are
the pillars of freedom and democracy around the world.
Erik is now preparing
for his Seventh Summit expedition. Erik and his team
leave September 1 for Carstensz Pyramid, in West
Papua, on the island of Papua New Guinea. They will
trek 5 days through the tropical jungle to the
highlands to reach the 2000 rock face of Puncak Jaya,
his last of the highest summits on the seven land
continents. Afterward, the team will head directly to
Kosciusko in Australia, which, because of its 7500
elevation, climbers often replace with the much more
difficult Carstensz. This will make Erik's Seven
Summits absolutely complete... and, just to make it
interesting, Erik and his team are planning to para-glide
off the top of Kosciusko. Today is his first day of
para-gliding training in Colorado. Erik, incidentally,
is an acrobatic skydiver, with more than 30 solo jumps
to his credit.
book, TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD