Blog posts in News

No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition Team Reflection-Rob Raker

Rob Raker, affectionately called “Papa Duck,” met Erik on a chance encounter in one of the world’s most remote places, Antarctica. After meeting again while filming an adventure race, Rob and Erik became good friends and have rock climbed, ice climbed, skied, ice-skated, paddle-boarded, bicycled, kayaked and traveled to over a dozen countries together. When kayaking was only a flicker of an idea, Rob taught Erik to “Eskimo roll,” and was instrumental in developing the guiding system that Erik uses. Rob served as a guide and safety boater on the No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition.

Family Surprise at the Takeout

Written by Ellen Weihenmayer: It’s fun and rather easy to surprise a blind guy. The kids and I hopped on a plane and flew to Flagstaff, Arizona. From there, we got on the raft guides’ bus and drove 6 hours to the take-out at Pearce Ferry. My friend, Kim, came along. Kim is our family’s cheerleader, starting with her film work at base camp while Erik was on Everest. Also, Erik’s lead climbing Sherpa and friend, Kami, met us in Flagstaff. Kami is “Uncle Kami” to our family. He helped us in the arduous adoption process for our son, Arjun. He’s always up for an adventure.

Kayaking Blind

Now that I’m home, I’ve had a little time to reflect on our No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition. Lonnie and I embarked on this journey as part of our No Barriers Pledge, our commitment to live a No Barriers Life. As two blind people, we understood that choosing to kayak 277 miles through the Grand Canyon and through some massive white water, wouldn’t be easy. Choosing this kind of path is never easy!

Tim Conners, Continuing to Climb

My friend Tim Conners and his mom Betsy have just taken a huge step in their lives. Tim was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 15 years old. After going through chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant that resulted in a complication that made him blind, Tim, needless to say, has been through the ringer. However, Tim is a “climber".  I originally met Tim when I was contacted by the Make a Wish Foundation a few years ago. After speaking with Tim, my teammate Skyler and I brainstormed with him and his mom and decided to do something fun but also adventurous together.

Climb on Binning Family Foundation!

Last week, the Touch the Top Team and I spent a morning climbing with some local youth from the Redirection Center in Littleton, Colorado,  which helps kids work through some of the challenges they face, both from circumstance and choices.

"High Ground" Shown at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida

Last Friday, our film High Ground, highlighting the struggles of injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as they re-enter a civilian world, was shown at USCENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) in Tampa.  Major General Michael Garrett presided over our visit. We learned such a screening was unprecedented in USCENTCOM history, a huge honor for us all.

NEVI SKI FESTIVAL 2014

Interested in blind skiing? A couple of weeks ago, my guide Jeff and I taught a clinic for guides of the blind at Sugarloaf, Maine. I always love being a guinea pig, so check out some of the guides testing their new skills guiding me! Meet my new friend Noah Carver!  It was fun getting to teach a clinic for some guides from Maine Adaptive Sports and we got to ski with a few of the blind participants.

Echo Location Part 2: Back On the Saddle

Lesson 1: Follow the Leader The second part of my Flash Sonar training with Daniel Kish focused on something I haven’t done in over thirty years, riding a single bike. My team, Daniel, and I took to the park and decided to give it a shot.

Echo Location Part 1: Batman in Training

I love creating systems which break new ground. Lucky for me, an amazing sensory system for navigating as a blind person already exists. It's essentially what bats do, a kind of echo location, mastered by the guru, Daniel Kish. Flash Sonar is the name Daniel coined, in which you make sharp clicks with your tongue and listen to how the sound echoes off objects to figure out their size, shape, and distance. Most blind people have learned to do this to some degree, but it’s passive and not developed with a conscious process.

They are back! REACH Pendants

Touch the Top announces we are selling our REACH Pendants again this year. Last year we took a big reach ourselves by embarking on this new venture, and it was so wildly popular, we’ve decided to bring it back for the holidays. All proceeds will go towards a scholarship for a deserving teenager to participate in a No Barriers - Leading the Way experience. These trips take teams of kids: blind and sighted, deaf and hearing:  on multi-day journeys down the Grand Canyon. The mission is to help youth learn to tap into the human spirit, push through adversity, and embrace a No Barriers Mindset.

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