Base Camp Blog

First Blind, Female Ascent of the Grand Teton

Nancy Stevens atop the Grand Teton. Photo courtesy Teton Adaptive Sports

On August 22, Nancy Stevens, 51, became the first blind woman to climb the Grand Teton. Stevens, a Bend, Oregon, local, made the ascent in one day, climbing with three friends and four guides. Stevens needed no physical assistance during the ascent; she belayed her partners and rappeled on her own. The only aid she received on the climb was being given a general direction in which to climb.

The group began their ascent at 4:00 a.m. The group reached the summit at 9:46 p.m. and arrived back at the parking lot by 10:30 a.m.

"To get an idea of how hard it is to climb the Grand Teton without sight, try closing your eyes and walking to your mailbox," says Ryan Burke, one of Stevens' team members from Teton Adaptive Sports. "Now pretend that mailbox is eight miles away, 6,500 vertical feet up, with boulders the size of cars in your way. Climbers respond to Stevens' story because it is a reminder to all of us that the only things holding us back are our own misconceptions."

Eric Henderson, another group member, describes Stevens' attitude as “not seeing obstacles to success, only the potential for success.”

Stevens also plans to complete a triathlon soon.


Previous Comments

I know it's crazy old...but to set the record straight...they left the saddle at 4:30AM, summited in just over 5 hours, topping out about 9:45AM. Hung out for photos and snacks then headed back to parking lot, arriving by 10:30PM. For more on the day you could read this:

TD - 10/20/2014 3:30:00

pat O'Donnell and his brother Michael Donald climbed with Eric in August of 09 i was with them

goody - 09/24/2012 10:38:34

Please read for comprehension. 9:45 pm summit, 10:30 a.m. return. Over 12 hours down... far from a world record. Great achievement though!

Geoff Mitchell - 09/24/2012 4:08:21

Summit photo is in daylight, not 9:45 pm?!?!?

Timbuktoo - 09/24/2012 1:23:45

PS lame web site design since all the comments are merged so it looks like one person posted all this.

Paul - 09/23/2012 1:09:00

WTF? Erik Weihenmayer climbed the Grand several years ago with two friends and that may not have been the first blind ascent. This might be the first female blind ascent and that's still pretty cool. But be honest in your reporting on "firsts" and at least mention the route.

Clyde - 09/23/2012 1:06:13

Summited at 9:46 pm and returned to their car at 10:30 am, as the article states

reading glasses - 09/21/2012 10:23:28

yeah, no way did they get to lupine meadows parking lot in 45 minutes

peter - 09/21/2012 9:03:07

Ditto to previous comment. Please fact-check/correct this article.

GK - 09/21/2012 3:23:36

4 AM to 9:45 PM to summit is not unheard of, but 9:45 PM to 10:30 PM to return all the way to the parking lot sounds like a world record.

Doodles - 09/21/2012 2:38:27