In episode 16 we hear from one of my heroes Erik Weihenmayer. Despite losing his eyesight at 13 years old, Erik has gone on to accomplish truly remarkable things - summiting Everest (and the other 6 summits), Kayaked the Colorado River, authored some excellent books and founded a wonderful organisation 'No Barriers'. I think you'll love this one! I know I did.
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Erik Weihenmayer

June 20, 2018

In episode 16 we hear from one of my heroes, Erik Weihenmayer. Despite losing his eyesight at 13 years old, Erik has gone on to accomplish truly remarkable things.

Erik has used hardship as 'fuel to his fire' to become the first blind person to summit all 7 summits (the highest peaks on all 7 continents). He's also; kayaked the entire 277-miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, skied double black diamonds, competed in adventure races, sky dived, climbed peaks in Antarctica, written books, co-founded an amazing organisation, been a school teacher, a wrestler, and the list just goes on.

We cover all this and loads more in this epsiode.

We finish by touching on some of Erik's heroes, and he's got some goodies!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Thanks for listening. Please get in touch with an comments. And subscribe if you'd like to hear more.

guest links

WEBSITES:

Erik’s website

No Barriers

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Erik's Facebook

Erik's Twitter

Erik's Instagram

BOOKS:

Touch the Top of the World

No Barriers

The Adversity Advantage

FILMS:

Father Than the Eye Can See

Blindsight

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Focus on what you CAN change, let go of what you can’t. It’s difficult but keep practicing it mindfully
  • The faster you can accept what happens to you the happier, healthier, and longer you will live (but it’s not easy)
  • Hardship comes down to choosing whether you are going to let it beat you or not
  • Look to others who’ve already done what it is that you want to do
  • Do things for the joy of them first and think about records later
  • ‘Serving others is the greatest therapy we will ever experience’ - Erik
  • Join a good community of people who have your interests at heart
  • Let go of your baby if others can help your idea grow quicker than you can

show notes

  • Intro
Erik Weihenmayer looking out
Erik Weihenmayer Kayak
Erik Weihenmayer summiting a mountain
Erik Weihenmayer mountain top
Photo credit: http://7summitsproject.com/greatest-modern-day-adventurers/
Erik Weihenmayer speaking
Erik Weihenmayer summits Everest
Erik Weihenmayer and family
Photo credit: https://www.mattnager.com/

FULL transcription


[00:00:55 - George Beesley] Hello and welcome to another episode of We Need More Heroes. We're still here in Guadalajara, Mexico, recording the last of this bunch of episodes and I cannot wait for this one. Today's guest has a truly remarkable story. Despite losing his eyesight at age 13, he's become a celebrated, an accomplished athlete, expedition leader, adventurer, author, an even co-founded his own organisation. Age 33, he became one of less than 100 individuals to climb all the seven summits, the highest peak on each of the seven continents. Mount Everest being the highest, of course. In 2014, he kayaked the entire 277 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He's also the author of Touch the Top of the World. He's also appeared in films such as Blindsight, which is amazing, where he led a group of blind Tibetan teenagers up Everest. And if you have a chance. Definitely go and watch that. He has received numerous awards. Amongst them, the prestigious National Courage Award and the 2002 ESPN E.S.P. Y Award. In addition to all these amazing things, he's also co-founded the organisation No Barriers, a movement aimed to help people live a rich and meaningful life. And as if that wasn't enough, he's also a former middle school teacher and wrestling coach. So without further ado, Eric Weihenmayer, welcome to the show. 

[00:02:22] Hey, thanks so much for coming on. 


[00:02:25 - Erik Weihenmayer] Yeah, it's really cool. It's fun following your adventures, too. 


[00:02:28] Glad. Yeah, it's been. It's been amazing. It's been so, so fun loving it. So, yeah, let's let's just kick off with how we connected. So I love talking to climbers and whilst I'm only at the beginning of my journey into climbing, I can really see how it's an experience which can teach you so much about life more generally, things like resilience and hardship and courage, determination and even being humble. And we've been lucky enough to have some great climbers on the show. And I could barely believe your story when I first heard it. One of the team are here at We need more heroes. Mentioned that I found this guy, Eric. He's done all seven summits. I said, amazing, let's get in touch with him. And then he added, Oh, yeah, and he's blind. And I was pretty honestly dumbfounded. And it took me a minute process from then on I just really wanted to learn more about your story and get you on. So. Yeah. Thanks so much for making the time. 


[00:03:24] Thank you. Yeah. And so, I mean, like, I think climbing is just an access to adventure right. Like, I wanted to make my life into an adventure. And I think climbing is one way to do it. Biking from Alaska to Argentina is another way to do it. So it's it's all just an excuse to have adventures in our lives and, you know, to have some some time planning and building a great team and, you know, just sort of working towards some defined summit and then the process of climbing for me, just so engaging, you know, just you know, it every step is different. So that really makes it fun. And. And not just necessarily repetitive, although there is a lot of one foot in front of the next repetition. 


[00:04:09] Yeah. Just more adventure in the every day is such a good antidote for so many things. And in the age of unparalleled anxiety and society and depression and all that kind of stuff, I think it's so powerful to just have more novelty, and adventure. And I mean, it doesn't always have to be a huge adventure like like this or climbing the seven summits, just little micro adventures, getting out of your comfort zone and spending an eye out in the woods or in the forest is, I think, such a powerful experience. 


[00:04:41] Yeah. In fact, I think about that with my kids. I have two teenagers and we went to the seminar. I think his name was Richard Love. And he was talking about the idea of the outdoors and adventure being a route to creativity, to leadership, like all kinds of executive decision making. So his message was like, look, I mean, you know, have your kids play soccer, you know, organised sports. That's fine. But if you really want to excel cinema over the fence, you know, that little creek or that little grove of trees where they can just have unadulterated fun and play an adventure that sort of sets them up for all this incredible creativity and success throughout their whole lives. And that really caught onto us. And so after that, yeah, we'd send we'd send our kids over the fence and I'd be so joyous, like when they'd come back saying, like, yeah, we build a dam and we sent, like, these paper boats down the creek and we made a fort in the woods and. 


[00:05:48] And I just love that. So yeah, I get emotional thinking about it. 


[00:05:54] I completely agree. I think that's a great message that organised sports also teach you, I think, a different set of skills. And competition is something that can be good for us as well. It can bring out the best in us, but often with organised sports, it can be so focussed around winning or competing that you can sometimes lose the joy in it, whereas in nature you're just doing something. Then you really hit on the concept of play. And I think we don't really play enough. And it's it's such a powerful human experience, especially as we get older and it just makes you so happy. Just playing a little bit. Just walking around, getting lost and playing in the woods. I love it. 


[00:06:36] Yeah. And then in soccer, you know, which my kid plays and my boy plays. You know, there's a lot of rules and you got to be at certain spots, you know, on the field at certain times. There's a way to do it. And there's a way not to do it. And there's skills and you're building those specific skills and you're conforming. You know, you're learning how to work together as a team. That's incredible. So, yeah, I'm not taking anything away from that. 


[00:06:58] But this idea of just like these opportunities to kind of make your own rules, to make your own games, to kind of be a little bit more of a master of your own domain in terms of your adventure, you know, those are really special as well. And that's, again, back to why I love climbing so much. I did a couple I did this stunt where I did these adventure races, these expedition adventure races. You know, you're like climbing and biking and running and caving and orienteering and swimming and all this, you know, every sport under the sun, you know, without any timeouts or anything. And you're just you're just moving. And I love those experiences. I loved them. But ultimately, I came back to climbing because, you know, those adventurous sports, they had adventure races, they had rules around them. Like I wasn't wearing my jersey one time. And I and because of that, I had to sit in the penalty box for an hour. And I was like, how arbitrary is that? You know? And so, you know, ultimately coming back to climbing is so great because you get to say, I want to set my sights on this objective. I was gonna be an incredible opportunity to go to plan this thing, to build the team around me, to get fit, to train my mind, my body, and then go sort of create the map from here to there. That's that to me is just really exciting. I don't know why I get I get jazzed up thinking about it. 


[00:08:36] Yeah. I think it's really exciting to see that sense of freedom and puzzle solving and just combining some creativity with hard work and determination. And it just sort of takes all the boxes. And it's amazing that attached to hear about your climbs, but I'd love to just go back to the start little bit. And if you could give us a bit more background on yourself and and and your childhood, that'll be that'll be really nice. Bit of context. 


[00:09:02] Yeah. I went blind from this very rare eye disease my freshman year in high school. So I was in ninth grade. I was born legally blind, like I could see well enough when I was born, you know. You know, all the way up through middle school to ride a bike, to run around through the woods, you know, just playing with my friends to play basketball. A little bit of baseball. But, yeah, middle school started getting really bad. Might the disease would make my retinas just oversimplify it and kind of unravel and detach haemorrhaged from the eyes. And so so I'd lose a little bits and pieces of vision pretty much every day until I went totally blind. My freshman year in high school. 


[00:09:50] And so, you know, that that I remember I still remember that moment when I woke up and. And I couldn't see enough to take a step. You know, before that, people were planning on, you know, that the doctors had diagnosed that I would be totally blind by a teenager. There wasn't any cure. But I pretty much blocked it out in my mind. I just denied it and would make up excuses why each day I couldn't see the thing I could see the day before. But then there is that moment when you you can't see to take a step. You're like, oh, my God, it's here. This is it. 


[00:10:31] Yeah. I'm sure it must have been unbelievably difficult to go through that experience. But how how did you come to terms with that? How did you accept blindness? 


[00:10:42] It's like something bigger than you eventually just beating you into submission. 


[00:10:49] Hey, you know, like I fought it, you know, like I pretended I wasn't blind, you know? 


[00:10:54] I reject the people around me. I was angry, you know. It's a lot of teenagers are frustrated and sort of feel oppressed, you know, but like I was that to the tenth power. And ultimately I realised I wasn't gonna beat this thing. I actually happened to be walking down a dark. And I I was at a time where I was practically blind, but like I could see just enough light out of my right eye still and that I thought I didn't have to use a cane. And I was walking down the dock and I looked like the dock kind of went left. And so I just took a step and. 


[00:11:35] And I realised I had made the wrong decision. And I did a flip in the air. 


[00:11:40] And I went flying through space and I landed on my back on the deck of a boat. 


[00:11:48] Wow. Yeah. So I realise, you know, like I was gonna beat this thing that, you know, like you kind of have to you have to give in. And that was a good thing, you know, giving in, you know, just to say and, you know, your whole life, my whole life has been this balancing act between what are the things that can't that you can impact, that you can control, that you can influence, and what are the things that you have to let go? And that's not like a easy concrete instruction book. That's a really tricky thing. 


[00:12:25] Yeah, I think that's a great way of looking at it, though. 


[00:12:28] You seem to have this stoic approach. I don't know if you've read much stoic philosophy or whether it's just emerged from your experiences. But then you just talked about how you should really concentrate on the things that you can affect and let go of the things that you can't because you have no control of them. And I've heard you in quite a lot of your talks or writings talking about how the obstacle is the way and it can be used as a fuel to the fire to help you grow something more. 


[00:13:00] Is that have you. Did you sort of get that message from reading philosophy or did it just come from you or from your experience? 


[00:13:08] I think it came from bleeding. 


[00:13:12] I think most of my experience is my learning have come from bashing my head into walls and falling off the docs and and and bleeding and getting up again. 


[00:13:24] But I have read a little bit about stoicism. Marcus Aurelius, I think the Big John Irving fan and he's author who writes a lot about stoicism. So, yeah, this idea that, you know, adversity can be a great teacher, you know, it's something I definitely believe in. And I think there's a lot of science behind it, too. You know, my second book was called The Adversity Advantage. And the idea behind that was that adversity can be a great teacher and it can actually be a pathway to, you know, building strong teams and having innovation in your life and motivation. You can kind of use more adversity as energy. And I teamed up with the scientists, this really incredible scientist, Dr Paul Stoltz, and we studied that idea. And, you know, he had a lot of science behind the idea that, like, OK, you see some bad happens to you. The faster you pick yourself up and sort of accept it and find the energy behind it, you know, the happier, the more fulfilled, the healthier, the longer you live. You know, even so, there is great science behind it. But, you know, I've always struggled with that because it's not like, you know, you go blind or you stub your toe and you're like gushing blood. You know, blood's pouring out of your toe and you're like, what an great opportunity for growth. You know, it's not it's not your first thought, you know. So I feel like for me and probably most mortals, you have to go through a lot of struggle to get to that energy. It doesn't happen right away. It's not like this, you know, textbook kind of situation. You kind of have to pound your fists against the ground and rail against how unfair life is. And and then, yeah, ultimately, you you pick yourself up and and you commit to using that as energy to move you. And maybe in the same direction, you know, like finding yourself, finding that thing again or sometimes in the process, you know, finding a new thing. And for me, that was climbing. 


[00:15:31] Mm hmm. Yeah. 


[00:15:33] You may have already answered this, but I just would like to hear your thoughts on and honour anyway, that the fact that the same thing can happen to two different people and affect them in two totally different ways. How do you think about turning bad things into things that can help us? And what do you tell people in order to try and help them through that journey? 


[00:15:55] Well, I mean, I guess ultimately people have a choice, right? I mean, it's it really is a choice. It's obviously much more complex than that. But I mean, ultimately, you do have a choice when these things happen to you. Do they stop you in your tracks? Is that the end? Which nobody wants it to be the end. Right. Nobody wants it to be the, you know. OK. All right. You live in a prison the rest of your life. So that's one choice you make or you commit to using that as energy, as fuel to break and out of that prison to breaking through that barrier. And I think most people ultimately want to choose to break through it. Right. To at least try. And by the way, it's it's scary either way. You know, it's scary staying in that prison, just being just listening to life go by and, you know, just being a spectator in your own life. And it's also scary to break out. So, you know, both are scary as hell. It might as well use the. You know, go the direction that has the potential to lead you somewhere. 


[00:17:02] Yeah. 


[00:17:03] And how do you think people can stay positive and help themselves choose the the better path when they're dealing with tough circumstances? 


[00:17:16] Well, you know, so like after I wrote that adversity vintage book, I wrote a book called No Barriers to try to answer that very question because I felt like, OK, I wrote this self-help help book. And that was cool. But, you know, you can't really answer these things like in a textbook all the time. It goes beyond just like giving people instructions to doing this. You've got to see people doing it. You've got a glimpse how others have done it. And so no barriers was an attempt to write about these people, these real people in my life that I've witnessed that have done this very thing and they've done it. And I'm in a in a hundred different ways and to look at the nuances of how they do it. And it's all different. But yet there are a few common threads that run through all their experiences. And that was really fascinating to me to find what those common threads were. One of them was like the example I give is this guy, Terry Fox, who when I was going blind, I saw him on TV. It was one of the last things I ever saw. He was a Canadian who lost a leg to cancer and he decided that he was going to run across Canada. He was going to run from coast to coast. And like I just thought, OK, first of all, that's not the normal decision a guy in his situation should be making. 


[00:18:36] Right. It's like much your normal reaction curl up in a ball. Right. And I go, holy shit, you know, I just lost my leg to cancer. I've got to protect myself. Right? Protect, protect, protect. Right. That's the that's the psyche. 


[00:18:50] And your brain wants to keep you safe. Right. So that makes sense. But Terry did something completely different. Right. He watched kids dying of cancer in the hospital. They were dying. They were younger than him. And what he did was he somehow converted that tragedy into something bigger, a kind of like darkness into into vision and any use that is as a kind of fuel. And I know that fuel was what propelled him down that road every single day. And that was really powerful to witness because, you know, the look on his face, it, you know, I remember was like this contradiction. It was exhaustion and an exaltation all mixed together. And so it was a total contradiction, you know, like physically was just beating the hell out of himself, you know, physically had blisters all over his stumps. And yet there was this kind of internal light that seemed to I mean, like I don't mean to get, like, overly deep, but it was like you could see it in his eyes. It was kind of like just burning through this gaunt frame. And I and I was really curious what that was. You know, how do you how do you grow that light? How do you how do you nurture it? How do you how do you ignite it? You know, and really and make it into like that thing that blazes is inside. And so I think ultimately that's what people are trying to do. Right. They're trying to take that light, whatever that may be inside and really use it as a kind of fuel source to light their way forward. Right. Not, you know, not just to be reacting and responding and blaming and attacking the world, but really using that light to forge their own path. 


[00:20:36] Yeah, that Terry Fox story is is amazing. 


[00:20:39] One of the past guests, a Canadian that we had on, brought up. And I read a little bit into it and it was just incredible to see that kind of determination and strength. And and so I think inspiration is is maybe one of the ways in which we can do that to see other people who've managed to do what we're trying to do, take adversity and turn it into something positive and fuel for the fire. That was when I was just doing a little bit of research for this episode. I had a look on YouTube and there's a wonderful episode of Oprah that you're on and a young boy who went blind and sort of was struggling to come to terms with it, as you completely would expect. And then he saw your story of somebody who'd gone blind, but then was this adventure super enthusiast and done all these incredible things. And I think just knowing that that's possible and that there's people out there who've who've done what you're trying to do is incredibly powerful. And that's hopefully what this show is trying to spread a little bit inspiration of people showing you what what we can all do. 


[00:21:45] I agree. I mean, what we're trying to do, I think, is and what I've tried to do is to lean in and get stronger together. So you're building that community of people and kind of figuring out what those threads are that run through those people. And, yeah, I think we definitely need to be able to look at people and say, OK, like hopes and dreams I have are sort of more credible because I see somebody living the kind of life that I want to live. That's way I guess it was for Kyle, my friend. He's a he's like twenty five now. 


[00:22:16] He's doing Iron Mans and he's totally blind. 


[00:22:21] Wow. That's amazing. That's so good to hear that listeners should definitely cheque that out. It's such a nice little clip. And that's incredible to hear that he's he's gone on to do that kind of amazing stuff. 


[00:22:33] Oh, he's just he's a stud. I mean, you know, obviously he was really depressed when he went blind. He lost his eyes from cancer. And so he was pretty listless when I first met him. And after I I spoke to this group and he was sitting in the in the audience with his dad, who happened to be a Marine. So his dad is pretty motivated guy. And, you know, just the hardship of being a dad watching that, you know, that terrible thing happen to your kid. So they were sitting there and then afterwards kind of face lit up and he was you know, Kyle was like, so you can you can climb mountains, you can tandem bike, you can paragliding, you know, solo, you can you can ski, you can. And he was like, just you can do this. You can do that. 


[00:23:20] And and so then. Yeah. So I got to be reunited united with him on Oprah. 


[00:23:27] And that was really a cool experience. And that's really the whole sort of not whole, but partly the message behind the organisation of no barriers. The movement that I've been trying to build is the idea that, look, all of us have challenges, right? 


[00:23:44] Like, OK, I can't see, but. And Kyle, he couldn't see that that happened to be our specific challenge. 


[00:23:52] But, you know, life is pretty much a series of barriers and all of us are challenge. All of us have, you know, our kind of in that no barriers club of, you know, where the struggles are honestly more frequent than than the than the triumphs. 


[00:24:08] And so how do we lean in and how do we learn from each other and how do we grow and innovate and kind of break through those barriers together to make the world a better place? And so we started with just a bunch of dirt bags getting together, trying to make this thing happen. And now we work with almost 5000 people here. And. And it's been really one of the most proud things I've ever been a part of. 


[00:24:35] That's amazing. Yeah. Love to talk more about that. But first, I'd really like to delve into climbing and your journey into climbing. So how did you actually get into it? 


[00:24:45] Well, I couldn't play basketball anymore, which is what I really love to do. My brothers were basketball players and my one brother, my oldest brother played football and baseball and just, you know, he was a start. 


[00:24:56] Everything he did. And my dad was captain of his football team at Princeton and the Vietnam War. Like, he noticed that a lot of poor people were, you know, were getting draughted. 


[00:25:07] And he's just like, that's totally unfair. So with two kids and a wife, he signed up for the Marines and had 100 combat missions over Vietnam. 


[00:25:17] So, you know, I came from a family of people who really stepped up. And so when I went blind, I was like, well, you know, what am I going to do? Join the wrestling team. I love that. I really loved wrestling. I love being a part of the team. And then I got this letter in Brail of this group. They were it was called the Carol Centre for the Blind. And they were a rehabilitation centre out of Boston. I grew up in Connecticut as I was about three hours away. And once a month, they were gonna take people to do different recreational stuff because they knew that a lot of blind people miss out on sports, especially ball sports. So, you know, they were going to provide some fun activities. And so I'd go up there once a month. My dad would drive me there and then we'd have this weekend of canoeing or sailing. And one time we went tandem biking. I love that. And one weekend they took us rock climbing. And it was up in North Conway, New Hampshire. And it's just beautiful granite rock faces. They're just so beautiful. And it was I think it was fall. So was like big piles of leaves that you're walking through to the base of these climbs and just, you know, beautiful New England in the in the fall. New England can be hot Miskito. But in the fall, just stunning. You know, and and I use my hands and my feet as my eyes. And I was pretty athletic and so I could kind of hang and feel and scan my way up the rock face. And I found that there was like kind of a pattern in the rock. And so I couldn't see it. I couldn't, like, look up and fork and kind of put the pieces together. It was only what I could feel under my hands and feet, but I could sort of make predictions and deductions and calculations and sort of sorta figure out that puzzle embedded in the rock. And the way you did that, the way you unlock that puzzle was by like getting your body in this crazy positions from A to B to C to D and. And I got to the top of this thing, probably leaving a little trail of blood, you know, along the way, like usual. And I could hear the valley below me, you know, like this beautiful valley. Blind people use echolocation like they they listen to echoes, like the world is made up of a vibrate of echoes that that bounce off of objects and come back into your ears as vibrations. And so you can kind of hear the openness. Sometimes you can you know, you can purrfect this talent to like, you know, hear rocks and trees and and things like that. But I could hear the valley below me and I could hear the wind and the wind blowing the leaves. And it was just so opposite of what I thought that prison of blindness would be. And I think it really affected the trajectory of my life because I kept climbing and everything. I you know, I got pretty hooked. And everything I did was about wanting to figure out a way to climb more and climb more and climb more and I don't know, 16 years later. 


[00:28:28] Long story, but 16 years later, I was climbing, standing on the summit of Mount Everest. 


[00:28:35] Wow. What an incredible story. And was. Was that your most challenging climb? Everest. 


[00:28:42] Yeah, well, in a way, it was. Yeah, I mean, it was really big and really epic. I mean, and I don't want to undermine it whatsoever. So, yeah, I would say it was definitely I mean, very hard. And one of the pinnacles of my life. 


[00:28:56] But, you know, I've been to climb so many things all around the world, you know, I'm forty nine. So I've been climbing for, you know, almost 30 years now, you know. Well, 16 more than 30 years now. And so, like, I've you know, I've climbed the tallest peak in Antarctica. You know, it's 40 below zero. You know, you have one bit of skin exposed to the elements and, you know, it turns white and then goes frost bit, you know, and so you just it's total like, you know, management of your of what you're wearing and your body temperature. And I've climb, you know, huge rock faces. Were you, David, on the, you know, chopped out a ledge at midnight and you sit there shivering all night long and you wake up the next morning, you climb for another 12 hours or, you know, 15 hours to the summit and then to repel down the next night, you know, like a 50 hour push from 10 to ten. You know, I've I've had so many experiences of just push me so incredibly hard. So Everest being definitely one of, you know, one of the hardest things I've ever done. But these other mountains all around the world that probably no one's ever heard of have been maybe as challenging. 


[00:30:08] Wow, that's amazing. 


[00:30:09] I don't really understand how you climb in the Arctic or the Antarctic if it's that cold. Do you do you climb a it and then have to put your gloves on and then take them off and then climb a little bit like we we saw some English climbers. I can't what the what the film was called, but they were just some lads from the north of England and they they went out, found this unclimbed peak face of this peak, and they were just having a hell of a time. And the cold is really, I think, their biggest challenge. So. Well, what's it actually like and how do you how do you manage the cold? 


[00:30:46] Well, you know, it's cold when the only thing you can think about is, man, it's cold. 


[00:30:51] It's like it's like your primary and it's running through your mind. That's the only thing. 


[00:30:58] I mean, obviously navigating and so forth. But I mean, it's like it's right there all the time on the surface and, you know, and you got to keep moving. 


[00:31:07] So, you know, if you stop too long, it's very dangerous. So you got to be fit to be able to keep moving because that's how you keep your body temperature, you know, high enough and, you know, you can dress appropriately. So you would just wear a ton of layers. I was in a down suit and I remember I have you know, I had a balaclava, which is like a face mask on. And then I had a hood. I had a fleece over my ears. I had goggles on and then I had a fleece hood and then a gore tex hood and then a down hood. I had my down hood, like, cinched up so that, like, it was covering my eyes. The literally the only part of my body that could that was disposed like was my mouth so I could breathe. So I probably, you know, looked like totally goofy but but but yeah. You're you're, you're just managing that cold all the time. I remember part of me, just like my hood came slightly off and there was a little separation between my goggles and my balaclava and just like a little tiny centimetre of skin. And it just within 10 seconds, 20 seconds, it turned white and like would have been well on its way to frostbite on my face. And, you know, but your friend points it out, hey, you know, watch out and then you, like, rub it in you. So you're basically the point being you're constantly managing every part, you know, your feet, your hands, your you know your fingers, your face. And and then, you know, trying to, you know, get back to, you know, get to the summit and get back to your tent where then you can basically crawl inside your sleeping bag and create your own body heat. 


[00:32:56] Wow. What an incredible challenge. It's an amazing thing to do. And it's it's funny that we're drawn to these experiences. Like ultimately it sounds sort of terrible, but also amazing. My adventure juices are just flowing. I'm like, wow, that sounds incredible. I really want to experience that obviously takes a long time of climbing and you need to be an expert in it. 


[00:33:16] But one day have to stick it on the adventure to do list my buddy, my, you know, climbers, I'm sure athletes of all kinds. But a lot of climbers, they sort of have this, like, ironic sense of humour. And so I was climbing Mount Cortot and in the winter, which is in Maine, it's not that tall, but it was just unbelievably cold. And my friend said he laughed at the summit. He said if it was seven. Degrees warmer, could be freezing out here. 


[00:33:45] Well, they all laughed. Yeah, that's that that's hot. You know, it's cold. 


[00:33:50] And when when you are actually climbing Everest, which is, as you talked about, it's not known as the most technical climb in the world. It's just really, really, really big. What did you what were you most afraid of when you when you were climbing Everest? And how did you deal with that? 


[00:34:09] Well, I had a lot of reluctance because, you know, no one no blind person ever climbed it before. 


[00:34:15] And so, you know, it's not as simple as to say, like, I knew I could do it. You know, I didn't really know I could do it. I thought I could do it. I was counting on the fact that I could do it safely. And if I couldn't do it, that I could turn back gracefully. 


[00:34:33] Because, you know, you watch these movies and people like climb to the point of exhaustion. They fall down the snow and they die. And I was like, well, you don't really have to do that, right? If you know your body, you know yourself, and you've had a lot of time pushing and testing your limits, you can turn back and before that threshold and you can make it down safely. You know, like I'd seen these stories you see here, these horror stories, you know, like a lady on Denali who, you know, was their dream to reach the summit. She reaches the summit. She turns around 100 yards down from the summit. She falls down in the snow and she. And she's died. She died. 


[00:35:17] And she's you know, she's still up there, you know, and you walk by her, you know, somewhere in the snow and you're just thinking like, how hard can you push yourself before you just you know, you you're that's it. So you're constantly thinking about what that threshold is. And. And so I didn't want to be I didn't want to push to the point where I couldn't turn around. So that was my first commitment, you know, because I had a little daughter at the time. My daughter Emma was just two years old, by the way. I got a lot of criticism for leaving and, you know, doing this, quote unquote, high risk endeavour with a two year old little girl, which, you know, hey, I'll take that criticism. But my wife and I, we thought it was a good idea. You know, that this was an acceptable amount of risk for me. I had been training for two years. I had this amazing team of people around me, not necessarily any paid guides, but just friends who were really good climbers. 


[00:36:17] Tons of Himalayan experience and all of them had we'd climb together enough that they knew how to help me. They knew how to communicate with me, and they really believed in the possibility of this. Sometimes, honestly, more than I did. You know, they kept me going when I was, like, really low. So for all those reasons, I decided to go to Everest. I guess my fear was that in the death zone where you can't think, you know, you don't have enough oxygen to really think like high level thoughts. You know, you just don't have enough oxygen. You know, they say you're kind of reduced to the brain of a reptilian, kind of a reptilian brain that, you know, not being able to really focus and not being able to see that that would be a pretty overwhelming combination against me. So that was probably my biggest fear. You know, how would I react in the death zone? And there's really no way to test that. You know, I tested everything. I really went out. And, you know, I've been climbing for a long time, but there is no way to test the death zone. 


[00:37:22] Yeah. Yeah, amazing. And it's incredible that that you did it and a real accomplishment. And and I love seeing all of your climbs around the world. 


[00:37:30] But if there are a people if there are blind people listening and they think, wow, this is amazing, but that seems like a long way away. How do I get into climbing? What? What? Because it's obviously different. Like you said, you feel your way and it's it's sort of different approach to climbing. What advice would you give to them? 


[00:37:50] I'd say don't make your life into it like records or firsts or anything like that. Just, you know, it's it's not necessarily about that. Like, I never went out thinking, like, I want to break records as a blind person, you know? I started out rock climbing with this group. 


[00:38:06] These wonderful people took me under their mentorship and and coached me and taught me and said, hey, I don't know a lot about blindness, but like, I see this light inside you and I think, you know, and they show they saw the appreciation, you know, just a gratitude that I had. And they wanted to help me. And I found that most people really do want to take you under their wing and help you if you show the right kind of energy and appreciation. And so I joined the when I was a teacher out in Arizona. I joined the Arizona Mountaineering Club. And again, more mentors taught me how to lead climate, how to how to set anchors, how to do self arrests and how to rope up. And. And I had a great team of friends and we'd go out on the weekends as weekend warriors just climbing and kite and hiking mountains. 


[00:38:56] So I would say for people, just don't worry about the records, just go out and join the right community and people will. If you have the right energy, you know, if you really are like you aren't jaded or angry or like make people feel uncomfortable. People will want to be a part of your dreams. But you have to kind of open your heart to that experience and to that to the possibilities. And then see where it takes you and who knows. Will world take you? It's an unexpected thing. You know, it's like you you commit to that openness and you commit to that journey. And then that journey kind of takes over and propels you in these crazy, unexpected ways to places that you almost couldn't imagine maybe. 


[00:39:47] Amazing. Yeah, I think that's great advice. Maybe up to the seven summits one day maybe. 


[00:39:52] So I have a friend who went blind and he's lives up in Fort Collins. He's part of our No Barriers community. His name's Travis. And he he went out on a hike with us on our first day. 


[00:40:04] No barriers. One of our no barriers experiences. 


[00:40:09] And I taught him how to walk. We're tracking polls and how to, you know, his wife with Jingle Bell in front of them and he just, like, really caught hold. And he goes out on the weekends with his friends. And in a couple weeks, he leaves for the Himalayans to do a big trek through the Himalayas. And he's nervous as hell. He's excited. And so, you know, that's just that's what I think about when I think about these people who. Yeah. You know, you keep your heart open to all the excitement and adventure that's out there. 


[00:40:40] Awesome. What a cool story. Love it. Well, best of luck, Travis. 


[00:40:44] And other than climbing, you've done a shed load of extreme weather activities. But, yeah, one that really caught my eye was kayaking the nearly two hundred and eighty miles down the Grand Canyon. How did you get into kayaking and what was that experience like? 


[00:41:00] I think it started I was climbing on a huge ice face in Nepal with my friend Rob Raker, who is another great mentor of mine. Could really good climber, rock and ice climber, great mountaineer. And we were up hungry and cold and miserable on this ice face. And he had talked about kayaking. And he's like, you know, it's I usually warm and sunny on the river and you're in a bathing suit and it's really nice. He's like the you know, like the the worst day, you know, on the river is better than the best day starving up in the mountains. And I think he being a bit ironic, but our sarcastic, I guess, but. So when I got home from that trip, I said, hey, will you teach me how to do a role like a combat role, which is when you flip over in a kayak, you gotta learn to to to roll back up. 


[00:41:54] Do you get your paddle to the surface and you snap your hips and you get yourself back upright. And so he taught me that he's a really good teacher. And then I said, hey, Rob, what do you think the possibility is just to go maybe do it like a river. And I go, you know, I said my family, you know, one of the problems is in the mountains. Like, you can't bring your little kids, you know, up backpacking, you know, some some big experience in the Himalayas because you're just it's a hard thing. You're carrying weight on your back. And it's not a very accessible thing for four young kids that I had at the time. And and I knew that rivers were because when I was kayaking, my family could be on a big raft and a big raft. You can bring food and and beer. And so it's a pretty awesome way to experience the wilderness by floating down a beautiful wild river. So I started going on these river trips with my family, and I loved it because at the end of the day, sitting around the campfire on the beach, you could talk about your ventures. I'd talk about learning to, you know, like, oh, yeah, I got sideways. I got windshield wipers in this hole and. And Rob came and, you know, I pulled my skirt and I swam and Rob, like, brought me to, you know, pulled me to shore and. And then the kids would be talking about, you know, getting flipped into a somersault on their, you know, rubber duckies, which are like inflatable kayaks. And my wife would talk about her adventures. And, you know, we're all like in this we're learning process. Right. Just all part of the same experience, even though we're doing different things. And. And then at the end of the day, we could sort of collect ourselves and compare notes and share experiences. So that's really how it started with the love of doing an adventure. 


[00:43:49] But having my family nearby, but then it got into bigger rivers and then then it gets into, you know, what you get in over your head. And it was a great lesson about the learning process, because whenever you're pushing the limits, you know, you reach a point where you get in over your head and then, you know, there's a pretty significant chance of. 


[00:44:11] Sort of a kind of trauma happening. 


[00:44:14] And I definitely experienced some of that, you know, got into rivers over my head where I got sucked into these giant vortexes, these whirlpools, and you get held down for like a minute. And, you know, they're so powerful, they're pulling, you know, your shoes off off your feet, you know, and. And at that point, you have these serious thoughts about whether you really want to continue this sport or not. 


[00:44:40] So I those are barriers in themselves, just how to sort of not allow the weight of these experiences to become sort of baggage and and clutter and scar tissue in your brain. And it's another sort of balancing act between growing and learning and and not collecting that scar tissue. 


[00:45:07] Mm hmm. Yeah. So talking about close calls then with your getting into those sort of vortexes. Well, what's been your closest call on all your extreme adventures? 


[00:45:19] It's probably in in the early days, like climbing, it's in the early days of your learning process because you are sort of trusting other people to help you make decisions because you don't have enough experience to to to kind of be totally self-determined. 


[00:45:39] When I was just starting to Climos in the Arizona Mountaineering Club, I went climbing with with a guide and knowing that, well, but I was rappelling off the rope and, you know, I asked him as head to the rope touched the ground and he said, yeah, touches the ground. And I asked him again. OK. So touching the ground. So I started rapping down and basically it was, you know, something happened where one of my ropes was like 50 feet off the ground, just hanging in space. I would've repelled right off the end of my rope. 


[00:46:07] Well, thank God my wife was down at the bottom looking up. And she said, Eric, stop. So that was this close call. That makes me nervous since, you know, makes my fingertips tingle even when I think back 20 years ago. And it was just I don't know what the guy was thinking. And we didn't never climb again together because it was just so uncomfortable, you know, like I didn't blame him, but I just couldn't climb with him again. You know, that trust was shattered. But you learn from those experiences. So, yeah, I guess the point is, like, as you're learning, you know, as you're you're right in the beginning of that learning curve, just make sure you know that you're in the hands of good people. Right. Don't just be indiscriminate about who you trust. 


[00:46:55] Yeah. I'd love to talk a bit about your organisation. No barriers as well. So I looked on your Web site and I loved your mission statement and I'd love to read it. 


[00:47:04] It's fairly short. So it says that the mission is to unleash the potential of the human spirit through transformative experiences, tools and inspiration. We help people embark on a quest to contribute the absolute best to the world. In the process, we foster a community of curious, brave and collaborative explorers who are determined to live. The no barriers life. And I really love that. And it seemed a very similar aim to that of we need more heroes. Can you just talk a bit about your organisation and what it does? 


[00:47:38] You know, you have these moments in your life that, you know, all calm summit experiences, you know, and and they're just they whined. I think being like in the mountains, you know. They come, you know, tell you that you're kind of moving in the right direction or way. Pappe points on a map or whatever analogy you want. And I'm one of those for me was getting a call from this guy named Mark Wellman. He is a hero of mine. He reminds me of Terry Fox. He's a he's a paraplegic. He got hurt in the mountains and he continued to climb. He does pull ups up the rock face, essentially. He climbed El Capitan, which they estimated 80 dead, over 7000 pull ups in eight days on this incredible journey. Yeah, and it's just an amazing, amazing pioneer. And, you know, after that, he met presidents and dignitaries and lit the torch in the Paralympics. And and he asked me to go climbing on a film project. And he said he had another guy with us that was going to climb with us. And his name is You Hurry. 


[00:48:52] He's a double amputee. He lost his legs in a climbing accident. And in the process of learning how to climb again, he really wanted to. And he had this burning desire to climb. He built his own legs in his garage. And they were legs that nobody really ever seen before. They didn't have heels. They had these little doorstops, four feet that he could wedge into. Seems no human foot could stand up in. And so by doing this, he became a better climber than he was when he had feet. And amazing stories, these guys of what I call alchemy. You know, this idea of just taking absolute crap and turning it into gold. And and so these guys invited me climbing for this film project. We made a school film you can price maybe see it online. 


[00:49:40] Still, it's called Beyond the Barriers and the three of us climb this rock face together. I carried Mark to the base of the climb and he was the best climber of us. So he did the leading leading the rope up and we all reached the top of the rock face, this little corkscrew of a summit maybe six hundred feet above the desert floor. And and for me, that was the beginning of no barriers, because those guys reminded me so much of Terry Fox one. I wanted to know what that light was inside of them, like how it worked, how you could grow it. Was it sort of exportable? Like was it could could you somehow get it to leap into other people? And how did you do that? And I also wanted to understand this idea of growth, you know, that we're all pursuing in our lives. I wanted to understand the real picture of growth, you know, not the stuff you hear in movies, but this grittier, sort of bloodier reality of the map that people want to build in their lives. Like what? What is that? What are the components of that map look like? And, you know, is there a way to teach it? And so for me, that was so seminal to all the work that we've done since then, because the three of us got together and we started this movement that we call no barriers and we've been growing it ever since. 


[00:51:05] And now we're really fortunate. You know, we're a staff of 40. We raise about almost ten million dollars a year in donations. We work with almost 5000 people a year all around the world doing these transformative experiences, helping people to break through barriers and ultimately, as that quote mentioned, to then make their own no barriers pledge from that experience, which is what are you going to do with this experience to elevate your life, your family, your community, the world? The ultimate aim is all about what are you going to do to elevate? You know, and that's sort of the and are no barriers lingo. The culmination of the journey is this element that we call elevate, which is, you know, when you're when you climb your mountain, you find your footing. You you stand on top. You have your own successes. Sure. Pound your chest a little bit and then celebrate, but then, you know, come down the mountain and figure out how to use those struggles as those things that you've learnt to elevate the people around you. And so that's what we call are no barriers pledge. 


[00:52:23] Amazing. Well, that's great. It sounds like the organisation is going so well, so really big. Well done on that. And a beautiful mission. 


[00:52:31] It is. And I didn't know what I was doing. I mean, as I started growing this thing, Mark and Hugh and me, we were a good start. 


[00:52:38] We built an initial great board of people. 


[00:52:40] And but ultimately, as we've grown, I've turned it over to people that were a lot smarter than me, that know how to grow businesses that know how to grow, non-profits who know how to manage a staff and and set goals and so forth. 


[00:52:56] So I'm on the board and I go out and raise awareness for our message as sort of an ambassador to the programme. So, yeah, the best thing I did was to say, okay, I can either keep this organisation wrapped around my finger, which limits the growth, or I can surround myself with really smart people who get division. And then and then allow them to grow it. And so, yeah, it's it's a it's been a process of growing, but also letting go and sort of making the idea more expansive than just my own idea. 


[00:53:37] Mm hmm. And then gives you more time to go into the really fun stuff running out Lancets. Yeah. Exactly. Yes. And in in these programmes. So you've got one, the Nobel Press Summit Warriors and youth. And what what do you actually do on some of these programmes? 


[00:53:52] Well, we get a lot of people who either have physical challenges or they have what I referred to earlier as what we call invisible barriers. You know, maybe that it's emotional challenges, maybe it's trauma, maybe it's PTSD, post-traumatic stress, maybe it's poverty. Right. Kids who have never experienced the world right had never been more than a few miles from their house. Maybe it's kids who grow up without a family and they're up in the foster care system or DOCA kids, you know, are first generation Americans or kids who lost parents to war, to violence. As I said, it's a very diverse community. And we'll bring these people on these what we call transformative journeys. Right? We usually hike a mountain or climb or kite, a raft or kayak down a river. But the physical piece is only really like a catalyst to the mental and psychological emotional growth that people are seeking, you know, because they so often, you know, they feel stuck. Right. They they feel sidelined. They feel like they're in a place where they don't necessarily want to be like they want to be living the best version of themselves and they want to figure out how to get there. And so we bring them through our what we call no barriers. Elements are curriculum alchemy, for instance. 


[00:55:19] I mentioned earlier being a part of it. You know, when we stop around the campfire and we talk about what these things are and we do different activities to kind of flesh out that, the idea of how we grow. And so we find that the sort of emotional and intellectual exploration of this idea, along with the physical journey, really is this amazing combination that that gives people the chance to kind of reboot and reprogramme and adapt and and sort of reflect and figure things out. And ultimately then make that pledge of their own, which is going to take them to another place in their life. 


[00:55:55] Awesome. Love it. And if people want to support that noble cause, how how can they do that? 


[00:56:01] They can go to no barriers. USA.org. By the way, we're not really USA focussed. But that was the domain name. No barriers, you know, barriers dot or got stolen. So anyway. But we're no barriers. No barriers USA dot org. And we also have a really awesome thing called our summit that you referred to. And that's once a year we bring thousands of people together, all our community together to celebrate this. No bearer's idea. And so we do it through innovation, through activities, through speakers, through entertainment. It's really an incredible two or three day event. 


[00:56:40] And the next one we have in New York City, we decided to go to the to the big city of Manhattan to really be the kind of the epicentre of culture and thought and media and really get in people's faces with this idea, because I think it's something in particular, America. Maybe I'd say the world needs right now because there's so much adversity, there's so much challenge on the surface that is so scary. You know, all the stuff happening in Syria, the terrible things. You know, America's struggling back and forth with Russia. And, you know, we got a government that's ruled by Twitter feeds and just, you know, so all that stuff on the surface, it's so consuming for people and it doesn't leave enough space, I think, for growing that light that I talked about. You know, what is that thing that we really want to grow proactively? How do we come together? How do we solve problems? We need some space and no barriers. I think is that space that we sort of make sure we maintain in our lives that we keep open for all the good things that we want to achieve. 


[00:57:49] Very cool. So certainly worth checking out. And for people that are feeling inspired and pumped up now, how do they take concrete and lasting action to implement this kind of stuff in our life? 


[00:58:03] Because often find myself feeling very inspired and like I want to ask why it's all of these noble things, but it's hard to turn what can be sometimes inspiration into action. So if you got any thoughts on that. 


[00:58:17] Yeah. I mean, you know, I guess I'll be sort of Commerz. Shall we say, yeah. I mean, sign up for one of our programmes, right? That's the best Adweek I have for one of our programmes come to our summit. Right. Take the step of stepping into the community that I've talked about, you know, and it is a way to continue to maintain your own idea and vision and energy when you're surrounded by thousands of people that are like you. And that mindset that you're trying to build but have totally different backgrounds. You know, like I've sat at a breakfast at no barriers with a mom who's struggling to raise her kids in a no barrier's way. Maybe she's a single mom and a little person and a person who survive four strokes and a woman with a full heart transplant and a soldier who's struggled with PTSD and on and on a blanket who's never been off the pavement and so excited about this first hike he's about to do. I think that's how you continue to fuel that. That energy is by being in that community of like minded people who are all sort of leaning in and looking to grow that mindset. So that's the first thing I do. If you don't want to do that, I would say it's just go volunteer. 


[00:59:35] Find a good organisation and volunteer. Because sometimes I think stepping out of our crazy brains and just serving others is the greatest therapy we'll ever experience. 


[00:59:46] I absolutely love that. That's great. I think that's incredible. Advice can definitely get caught up in our own brains and our own goals and success and worries and all of that kind of stuff. And just taking the focus off you and putting onto other people can really give you a catharsis and percent. Yeah, yeah. I think that's wonderful advice. Really, really good, Eric, that the show is called We Need More Heroes. And I ask everybody and we've talked a little bit about it. Terry Fox and Mark Weltman. But other than your parents that are any of the heroes or inspirations that you want to add to the list? 


[01:00:20] Yeah, sure. Because I talked about a lot of people with physical challenges, but I say most the world, the challenges that they experience are more emotional, more psychological. I have a good friend. 


[01:00:33] Now, his name's Paul Smith, and he had a very tough life. And he his mom was killed. She was actually I don't want to get into it, but she was killed and pretty violent, horrific way when he was a little boy. 


[01:00:45] And his dad was so overwhelmed that he sent Paul off to military school and he joined the military. He was proud, actually. You know, despite whatever your political thoughts are on the wars, I mean, this guy was proud to serve, you know, to be a part of something bigger than him, you know. 


[01:01:02] And that was good for him. And then he got blown up. 


[01:01:05] And, you know, the physical stuff was he could deal with it, but it was the emotional scars of like all that shame and helplessness came flooding back into his life. He went down a rabbit hole, you know, just everything. Drugs, alcohol, car accidents, suicide attempts. He took part in one of our programmes. We climbed a peak again at peak. And Paul said that he was coming down the mountain and he looked out and, you know, we just for the last two weeks been going through this hole, no barriers curriculum and having these great discussions and activities and really fleshing out what people wanted to do, how they wanted to think changed their thinking. 


[01:01:46] And he said he looked out over this beautiful mountain range and he could see so far, all the way over the the the peaks and over the foothills and over to the horizon, you know, all the way to the edge of the horizon. He said it was so mind boggling. 


[01:02:01] He told me that it was as though like he was seeing sort of his potential, like he was seeing his future that he hadn't seen for a long time. And and that was really powerful to me, because after that, he went and he fulfilled three no barriers pledges because he'd been back to lead different programmes for us. 


[01:02:24] The first was to get his family back together and to try to bring them to a really safe place and healthy place because his family had experienced the trauma and he really wanted to bring them back to a safe place. So he moved them out to Colorado. Really brave move. And they're all safe and healthy. Second pledge was to get off of pain killers, which had really been destroying his life. And he did that with some hard work. And his last pledge was to to climb one of our Colorado 14000 foot peaks addiction free, which he achieved. And to me, that that that guy, Paul, is like the greatest role model because it's the real picture of how growth and change happens. It's not like what you see in the movies. It's real kind of flailing and bleeding, you know, kind of real growth. And and that's really what I like focussing on. 


[01:03:20] An incredible story. Paul, amazing. Well done. Keep it up. Sending you all the love in the world. That's so inspiring to hear. And do you do you think that heroes are born or made. 


[01:03:32] Eric? Is it nature or nurture? 


[01:03:35] Well, they're probably they probably made I mean, they're near there, probably they they do it through experience. I mean, they you know, I don't I don't think people are are like born with, like, certain heroic gifts or anything like that. I think we all start out with hope and optimism and excitement and a sense of adventure. And then what happens is, you know, things get in the way. 


[01:04:01] You know, all these barriers get in the way and it kind of sidelines us. So it's a tenuous journey for sure. 


[01:04:09] But, you know, I think there there is the potential to build that map that we're all hoping to build and navigate and use in our lives. And it's a messy map, but I think it is possible to grow it. So some people have figured out a little, you know, bits and pieces of what that map looks like. And they've used it to do some really great things. And so I've been lucky enough to kind of learnt maybe in my mind, bits and pieces of what that map looks like and and take it and run with it. 


[01:04:41] Eric, you've just been amazing. Overcoming all of these challenges in your life. And I'm sure people tell you all the time, but you really are an inspiration and it's incredible to talk to people like you. So I guess. Thank you. But of all these challenges that you've overcome and you faced, what. What for you has been the most tough? 


[01:05:04] You know, for for me, I've had a lot of challenges that had been on the mountain, off the mountain as well, you know. You know, death of family members, you know, people in my family dying of complications around alcoholism or depression. You know, those things are really hard, right? So sometimes it's not always the most obvious thing that we think is the challenge. It's not just going blind. There's a lot of other things. There's other challenges. We worked for two years to bring my son home from Nepal. My little my boy Arjuna is 15 now, so he's not that little buddy. When we brought him home, he was five years old and that was just one of the greatest challenges of my life. But so worth it. 


[01:05:52] The challenge of ageing. I'm forty nine and I was telling you before the interview. My hips bone on bone. And, you know, how do you sort of reckon with the idea that you're not going to be super blind for the rest, you know, for the rest of my life? Like, who knows if if parts of my life have to die and other parts have to be reborn? And what does that what are the new pieces of that life look like? So there's there's no loss. There's no lack of challenge. And so so, yeah. You know, I deal with all those human things. 


[01:06:27] Yeah. And it seems like your approach to them really helps you deal with seemingly insurmountable things. And like we've talked about all the way through, having some inspiration, some belief and seeing it as an ops, as an opportunity to grow. Seems like that if you frame it in the right way, then you can overcome almost any challenges. 


[01:06:50] And for you, what would be the takeaway that you would like listeners to walk away with after after hearing this and you've learnt so much throughout your life and come up against so much adversity, but also found so much joy and accomplishment and success so well for you as the takeaway for listeners. 


[01:07:09] Well, something I really haven't touched on as much is, you know, people like you, her. He's the guy that was the double amputee that helped me, found no barriers. 


[01:07:20] So I talked about him in terms of building his own legs and becoming a World-Class climber. And certain ways better a better climber than when he had feet. So I think the one one piece is that when challenging things happen, terrible things happen when you're committed to that process of alchemy. You can find your way home. And he ultimately did figure out how to climb again. But even if he had never found his way back to climbing in the process of building his own legs, he realised that he was pretty awesome engineer. And he got so inspired by that he went back to school and he got a bio engineering HD. And now he runs the biomechatronics laboratory at M.I.T. He builds 64 million dollar prosthetic legs with microchips, you know, processors in the knees and ankles. They think thousands of times a second better, enabling people to walk for the very first time. So, like, sometimes that process of alchemy does not lead you back to the very same thing that you thought were the place you thought you were going. Sometimes it leads you to a totally new place that you wouldn't have discovered in any other way. And so I think it is a commitment. The one thing I won't be able to take away is it's a commitment to, you know, maybe a kayaking metaphor to live in the current, because the current is where innovation and discovery happens, not in the 80s, not on the side of the river. So that's a courageous decision to live in the current. 


[01:09:02] Eric, thank you so much for your time. People want to find out a little bit more about you. Is the Web site the best place? 


[01:09:09] Yeah, they can go to my Web site. Touchthetop.com. And there's lots of videos and fun things. 


[01:09:15] And sometimes here and there, I speak to public venues and things like that. I was just in Vegas. 


[01:09:27] I don't have a show in Vegas, but I was speaking to University of Las Vegas at one of their speakers series. 


[01:09:33] And so from time to time, you know, I could meet up with people on the road at different settings. 


[01:09:40] Very cool. So, yeah, cheque that Web site out if you're if you're looking for any of that kind of stuff. Well, no barriers and it's no barriers. USA on social media as well. 


[01:09:48] Yeah. And also my book, by the way, my. I should be a little bit commercial here and tell you about that. I have a new book just came into paperback. It's called No Barriers. It's all about the stuff we've talked about. And I love hearing people's comments because, you know, you spend all this time, you dive into this process of writing a book. I took a year off of climbing and man and makes my day when people write me Facebook, whatever, and tell me, you know, the connexion that they made with with the book. So please do that, too. 


[01:10:21] Great stuff. Is that available now on Amazon? 


[01:10:24] Yeah, on Amazon and everywhere. You know, every bookstore. If if the bookstore doesn't have it, slam the door. Tell them their store sucks. 


[01:10:35] If there's one book shop they have to have in store. It's got to be no barriers. Exactly. Yes. The litmus test. 


[01:10:41] It's on audio. It's in Braille. So. Yeah. So, yeah, definitely. Definitely cheque it out. It's really the foundation to this movement that we've been talking about. 


[01:10:51] Very cool. I'll definitely cheque it out. So, Eric, thank you so much again. It's been amazing. And listeners, thank you very much for tuning in. So until next time.