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 Erik Weihenmayer Returns From His Goodwill Tour In Europe

erik_top.jpg (10427 bytes) Upcoming: Two Seventh Summits Plus Para-Gliding

Erik Weihenmayer 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; Erik’s 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.

The highlight, 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 organizers.

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.

Weihenmayer’s book, TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD

Adventure travel in Kenya, Nepal, Borneo, Antarctica, Egypt, Sinai and Nigeria

Recall years ago we told you about a blind climber named Erik Weihenmayer? We even did a Q&A with him with questions from our readers. Erik Weihenmayer is now world famous after his Summit of Everest in May 2001.

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