Part of the Everest Team to set 5 World Records: Blindest Man, Oldest Man, Biggest Team, Biggest Camera, 1st U.S. Father & Son
Awards: Alliance For People with Disabilities, Award for Inspiration.
Colorado House of Representatives: Resolution to honor 2001 NFB Everest team
Colorado Rockies: Opening Pitch at Coors Field
Award for Courage – 2001
Presidential Invitation: The White House – Washington, DC
Education: B.A. in Environmental Science, Univ. of Denver, CO
Married with twin daughters
Eric Alexander: The Summit
The 700 Club
Appeared on January 4, 2011
Eric Alexander met Erik Weihenmayer (Erik W.) when Eric’s wheelchair-bound roommate, Darol, let Erik W. sleep on their couch after a skiing expedition. The two Erics learned they had a passion for climbing and began local climbs in the Vail, CO, mountains.
On one climb, Eric eagerly accepted when Erik W. invited him to go and guide him on the Everest expedition. Eric was already an avid outdoorsman and mountaineer. He also had a job working with blind skiers at a resort. On May 25, 2001, Eric and a team of 19 climbers made history when they climbed Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 29,035 feet. This climb was one of the most successful team climbs. Time Magazine covered the story, because it was the first time a blind person ascended Mt. Everest.
Eric says Erik W. is a person with vision. Their Everest team was an unlikely bunch of underdogs. Many people who attempted to climb Mt. Everest failed and died.
It was a team effort. Eric was Erik W.’s eyes, and Erik W. was Eric’s support. Eric says he wouldn’t have made the climb without Erik W. On the Everest expedition they encountered everything. They had to overcome their mountains figuratively and physically. It also dealt with relationships. Eric says that after the climb the team was fortunate that their relationships stayed in tact, which isn’t always the case.
In 2002, Eric and Erik W. traveled to Russia and climbed Mt. Elbrus at 18,500 feet and again found success on Mt. Kosciusko, Australia –– two more of the seven summits (the highest points on each of the seven continents). Notably the pair skied from the top of each of these latter two – making this the first-ever blind ski descents.
One of Eric’s key scriptures has been Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (KJV) “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Teamwork was very important for the Everest climb and this scripture proved true. Here are some other key lessons that Eric learned on the climb:
Courage – The courage to serve others. This type of courage forces you to get out of your comfort zone and believe for something bigger than yourself. You sacrifice yourself for the sake of others (like in the military to serve and protect). For Eric an example of this would be each time he had to guide Erik W. across some ladders. On the ladder, it was more important for Eric to see Erik W. succeed.
Trust – Because Erik W. is blind, his trust is greater. He took Eric at his word and had to trust that Eric had Erik W.’s best in mind. Eric likens that to his own faith in God – to have faith and trust in Him. Though we can’t see and the road is bumpy, keep in mind that God has our best interests in mind.
Teamwork/Unity – The team couldn’t have done it without each other.
Perseverance – An example would be when they were at Camp 4, almost to the summit of Mount Everest. A leader of the other team was trying to discourage them when they were almost at the top. Eric’s team had to persevere despite of that. They climbed when nothing is visible but snow. Also, Eric wrestled with old fears from the year before (when he got High Altitude Pulmonary Edema [HAPE] – fluid in the lungs caused by being at a high altitude and had a 150 ft fall). However, he overcame his fears and was able to climb 26,000 feet without oxygen.
Leadership – Eric learned about selfless leadership when their team leader Pasquale had to turn around after they reached Camp 4. He was too tired and his foot hurt, but he let go of his need to reach the summit for the betterment of the others on the team. Also, Eric learned that on their team there were different leaders at different times with different leadership styles.
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