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Erik Weihenmayer (touchthetop.com) recently completed the first blind ascent of Alpamayo, a striking mountain in the Peruvian Andes that reaches 19,511 feet. Weihenmayer climbed the French Direct line on the peak with friend Eric Alexander and local Peruvian guide Rodrigo Callupe. Rather than spend time acclimatizing, the climbers headed immediately up the mountain, setting up camp at 18,200 feet. Weihenmayer had already started to feel effects of the high altitude (and cattle-tainted water). Beginning the summit push at 1:30 a.m., the team waded through fresh snow and then ten pitches of technical climbing. At approximately 11 a.m., the climbers reached the top and swiftly turned around to high camp, where Eric awoke with high altitude pulmonary edema. The team sped down the mountain, where Eric’s lungs healed quickly.
Weihenmayer, who went blind at 13, has made ascents up Mount Everest El Capitan. He has completed the Seven Summits, ice climbed in the Himalayas, and competed in the Primal Quest, a notoriously tough adventure race. With Mark Wellman, the first paraplegic to climb El Cap, and Hugh Herr, a double-leg amputee and scientist at Harvard, he founded the non-profit No Barriers, with the intention to help people with disabilities achieve their goals.