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.