The Mount Ama Dablam and Mount Everest NFB Expeditions, sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind, will make history by placing an integrated team, including the first blind mountaineer, on top the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest, in the spring of 2001. This climb will make a bold statement about the capabilities of blind people and their right to assume first class citizenship in society. It will make its mark in the annals of climbing history and advance human achievement worldwide. This will perhaps be the most ambitious human physical achievement in the first part of the 21st century.
The team has considerable experience, thirty-one climbs of 8,000-meter peaks and numerous other climbs of peaks throughout the world. Expedition Leader P.V. Scaturro has been climb leader on numerous Himalayan expeditions, including a successful ascent of Mt. Everest in 1998. Erik Weihenmayer, after losing his sight at age 13, has succeeded in climbing many difficult and technical peaks worldwide, many of which had never been attempted by a blind person.
The expedition will be composed of two climbs. Ama Dablam (22,486 feet/ 6854 meters) is often described as the most starkly beautiful mountain in the world due to its dramatic and awe inspiring features. It will be climbed in the spring of 2000 as preparation for a summit attempt of Mt. Everest in the spring of 2001. Although shorter than Everest, it is considered more technically challenging with mixed rock and ice climbing above 20,000 feet. Mt. Everest (29,035 feet/ 8850 meters), the tallest mountain in the world, will be climbed by the South Col Route, which gained notoriety in the 1996 best seller, Into Thin Air.
The primary goal of the climb is not to put a blind climber on the summit at any cost, but to place a true team of climbers, one of whom happens to be blind, on the top of the world. Team members will work integrally together at the ultra high altitude "death zone" for over five weeks. In order to be successful each member will have to contribute in a substantial way to the team effort. Erik will be an integral part of the team, with tasks including carrying loads, establishing camps, and contributing to the success of both expeditions.
The expedition members are committed to executing the highest standards of environmental awareness, adhering to the principles of "leave no trace". Our goal is not only to achieve "no impact", but also to obtain "positive impact", wherein expedition members are dedicated not only to clean up after themselves but also to clean up after previous expeditions. Since 1992, team members have demonstrated their environmental commitment by retrieving approximately five tons of garbage and human waste and hundreds of discarded oxygen bottles and empty gas canisters from Mt. Everest. Their achievements have been heralded by the American Alpine Club as the "new paradigm for expeditions worldwide".
The primary sponsor of the expedition is the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the leading organization in the United States comprised of blind members. The Federation is organized in every state and has local chapters in almost any community of any size in the United States. The NFB is the leading advocate for the blind, focusing on crucial issues facing blind people such as the 70% unemployment rate among working age blind, a decreasing literacy rate among blind children, and access to information and technology for blind people. The team is committed to assisting in the efforts of the NFB to improve the lives of blind people.
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