Blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer to kayak 277 miles of Colorado River

Erik Weihenmayer
Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind person to have climbed Mt. Everest, will take on white water on the Colorado River starting Sept. 7.
(Rob Raker /Nature Valley)

Erik Weihenmayer’s bucket list is impressive. He checked off Mt. Everest in 2001 and the highest summits on each of the world’s seven continents a year later.

He checked off the Expedition Impossible race across the mountains and desserts of Morocco and the high-elevation bike race in Leadville, Colo.

Not bad for a guy who’s been blind since he was 13.

Weihenmayer, author, motivational speaker and founder of an organization called No Barriers USA, is set to embark on a new adventure: paddling 277 miles through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River starting Sunday.


“A typical day of kayak training includes getting flipped in rapids, hitting rocks sideways and sometimes taking long unpleasant swims,” Weihenmayer, who will turn 46 on Sept. 24, said in a statement released Thursday.

“I hope that when others hear about two blind kayakers paddling the mighty Colorado River, they might be inspired that a No Barriers Life is possible for anyone.”

Weihenmayer will be kayaking with Lonnie Bedwell, a Navy veteran who lost his sight in a hunting accident, and a support team during the journey expected to take 21 days. They will begin at Lee’s Ferry, just south of the Arizona-Utah border, and finish at Pearce Ferry on Lake Mead.

Granola bar maker Nature Valley is supporting Weihenmayer’s adventure and joining him in challenging others to take the organization’s “no barriers pledge”:


I pledge to view my life as a relentless quest to become my very best self,
To always view the barriers in my life as opportunities to learn,
To find ways to work with others to build teams, serve those in need and do good in the world,
And to push the boundaries of what people say is possible, for only I know the potential that lies inside of me.

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