Jul 26, 2011

Expedition Impossible Behind the Scenes #5

Well ABC billed this episode as “A Blind Man’s Nightmare” and it lived up to the hype. Though relatively flat, this is the type of terrain that is brutally hard on me. The loose rocks and uneven ground are incredibly treacherous for sighted people too—witness John’s blown ankle. When I’m charging along behind Jeff or Ike, holding on to their pack, it’s impossible for them to warn me about every danger.

As badly as we wanted to win this stage and talk with our families, we all knew that an injury could mean a helicopter ride home instead. So we had to reduce the pace and watch teams pass us. And that was even before we made some big mistakes!

You saw on the show that we messed up with the fish fossil. In our defense, nothing in the instructions or on the map said that you should keep the rock. In retrospect, we should have assumed that—despite none of the previous challenges requiring an item later—but at the time we were tired and looking at the home stretch so it just never occurred to us this silly rock was that important.

We made light of it and tried to have a good time with the fishmonger as you saw when Jeff offered to trade our GPS for a damn fish and then threatened to just steal a fish, proudly honoring his redneck roots. But it was discouraging to have to hike a mile back to the riverbed. Fortunately, Jeff remembered where he set it down so we weren’t hunting all over again!

As we finished that afternoon, Dave Salmoni commented, “Until this stage you guys have come into the finish line with big smiles on your faces. This is the first day you’ve crossed the line with frowns.” We were beaten down physically and emotionally.

Another goof up occurred after the rappel on the second day when we hit a riverbed and went downstream for a quarter mile instead of upstream. We were sliding on our butts down little waterfalls and thinking, “this doesn’t seem right, the terrain is too sketchy.” This cost us precious time and energy because we lost our focus and weren’t communicating well. I knew Jeff was pretty upset because he turned quiet and stopped talking for a while.

Much of this stage, Ike would look back and there would be those persistent pesky fishermen. These guys are just amazing! As you may have noticed, they didn’t seem especially fit but they are just tough dudes doing very physical work on boats out at sea. They were always on our heels.

And the Cops were always nearby too. Great folks. On the sections where we could run, they were right with us. Even in the thick of competition, Rob from the Cops team would shout out warnings about rocks I might stumble on. This was such a different reality than all that dog-eat-dog backstabbing on shows like Survivor.

After two weeks of sweating and suffering together, it’s getting harder to say goodbye when a team leaves. Those New York Firefighters are definitely a class act. I don’t think competition is necessarily in their blood—they run into burning buildings and save people’s lives for a living—so they’re more into helping other teams all the time. You saw this selflessness in a previous episode when they stuck by the Cali girls who were struggling, cold, with numb hands. We were all sad to see those boys go. I’m hoping to see them when I’m next in Brooklyn; they offered to let my kids slide down the firepole in their firehouse. We’ll definitely take them up on this!

I have to say I was humbled by Akbar comparing me to the likes of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson (all NFL greats for those of you who don’t follow American football). But come on Akbar, I’d rather be compared to Mohammed Ali…

Of course, the ultimate act of kindness came from our bros, the Gypsies. Right when Jeff and Ike and I were thoroughly crushed, their gift of a phone call and video from our families was almost overwhelming. We later found out that the Gypsies own families were on hold when they made that gesture. So the producers had to make a hasty decision to accept the offer and then scramble to get our families on line.

Despite some blunders, Team No Limits is still hanging in there. The ratings for the show are still down against the posers on Big Brother. Apparently whining beats out drama these days. All I have to say is you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


PS please leave comments about how you like the show so far!

Jeff’s blog: http://mountain-vision.blogspot.com/

Gypsies blog: http://www.themoderngypsies.com/blog/

Cops blog: http://www.aconcordcarpenter.com/category/expedition-impossible

By the way, here is the full video of my family that we watched while sitting in a car in the middle of Morocco. My good friend Rob Raker put this together for us:


  • I’m jelous, your kids are a lot better skiiers than I am.

  • Hy Erik,

    You are truly an amazing person! I love the way you inspire people to take a look at their own lives and let them see that there are No Limits then the ones you set for yourself!

    And not to forget…… Jeff and Ike, you guys make a honorable team!!

  • Love the show! No Limits is my favorite. It is incredible to see team work working … what a great message to share with the world.

  • Hi Erik!

    From one Coloradoan to another…I’m so glad you and your team are on this show! I do not have any physical limitations, but I let fear hold me back sometimes in life. Watching you embrace life and adventure the way you do, without limiting yourself, is seriously very inspiring. The way that you and your team work together is also amazing. It has been so heart warming watching you and your “brothers” take care of each other. You have had so many opportunities to tell them “no, I’m not doing that”, but you haven’t…awesome!!! Thanks to you, Jeff and Ike for making this show more then just a reality show, but for inspiring me to get my bum off the couch and get out there!!! :)

  • Erik-
    I have to say, I watch the show just to see you triumph. Jeff, Ike and you are an amazing team. Thank you.

  • I’m a therapist, and providing my clients with stories of inspiration is a counseling method I’ve used for many years. However, the difference between hearing a speech or reading a book is MONUMENTAL in comparison to actually watching miracles happen. I am so very impressed with you and your team. Possessing the determination to stand face to face with the world and say “Watch Me!” when you’re told you can’t accomplish something…it’s just amazing. And your friends…wow. You are blessed. To have friends that love you enough to swallow their own fears for your safety and simply act as your eyes, because they know you, they know what you want, and they are willing to do whatever you need them to do to accomplish your goals. If we all had friends like that…So the miracles I mentioned earlier weren’t in reference to your physical feats…I refer to the miracle of friendship, courage, persistance, and the ability to meet challenges with positivity, tolerance, patience, and good-will. This is the way we were all meant to treat one another in this life…and you and your friends, as well as many of the other players on Expedition Impossible, are an inspiration…proof that it is possible…an example to the rest of the world of humanity at its best. Thank you.

  • We don’t normally let our kids watch “grown-up” television, but my husband and I were watching the first episode of Expedition Impossible when our six-year-old son came downstairs. He loves any outdoorsy, including hiking and rafting, and he is fascinated by geography, so he was immediately interested by the show. We decided to let him finish the episode with us, and he immediately picked No Limits as his favorite. He can’t wait to wake up every Friday morning and find out how No Limits did. You, Erik, are his favorite player and his hero! Thanks for being an inspiration and a role model!

  • Hey Eric,
    I’m loving the show so far. I’m definitely cheering for team No Limits! I love your spirit and how positive you three are all the time (although I’m sure you don’t always feel positive when things get tough). Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  • I have not been so inspired by someone in a very long time. Thank you. My family loves the show and we are cheering you, Jeff and Ike on!

  • Anxiously awaiting tonight’s episode of Expedition Impossible! Looks like it could be a little tricky for Team No Limits . . .

    Ellie, Emma, Arjun:
    I’m sure it’s harder on those left behind while Erik/Dad goes on these adventures but what a special video you made for him and, yes, the Gypsies were a class act to give that reward to the boys.

    Now off to see where No Limits finishes tonight . . .

  • Erik,
    You are such an inspiration!!!! I first watched you in the movie Blindsight. When I found you on Expedition Impossible, I was thrilled to see you again. I knew that you would surprise everyone with your incredible talent for climbing and your amazing perseverance. You have not disappointed. I watch every week with great anticipation to see No Limits and to cheer you and your team on. Keep up the great work!! I am having my kids (who each have developmental delays) watch as an inspiration to them.

    Take care,

  • Making that family video for Erik was really fun. We were given a few days’ notice to make a one-minute video. Our friend and film maker, Rob Raker stepped in to make it! Then, we were told a day ahead that we’d receive a phone call from Erik and his team after they had a chance to watch the home videos. What we didn’t realize is that only one team would get to see their video and make a call. We waited about an hour for the call to come through. Sadly, every other team had family members waiting as well, only to be told they couldn’t be connected. To hear Erik’s voice come through was such a gift to us all. Thanks so very much, Gypsies. You are a class act.
    Ellie, Emma and Arjun

  • I wait anxiously to “see” each new episode and read your blog. You are bursting the general publics image of the blin and that is just awesome. Thank you Eric!!

  • I’ve been stalking your blog since the show began. Watching team No Limits is inspiring to my family. We don’t usually watch much television – there aren’t many shows with a positive message. Expedition Impossible is a unique reality show because while it is a competition, it seems to foster upbuilding relationships. My 4.5 year old daughter thinks you’re amazing, and I agree! She asks me to point you out in the episodes. I’m happy to do so. In fact, through this show I’ve been introduced to your books and movie. I’ve started reading Touch the Top of the World, and when I get though that The Adversity Advantage awaits me. That one comes at a perfect time in our lives, as we face some challenging circumstances over the next few months. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Go Team No Limits! It’s no secret who we’re rooting for. :)

  • Hi Erik,

    I’m really enjoying the show. More each week. I normally don’t watch these kinds of shows, but decided to watch just because of you and Jeff (and Ike, too, though I wasn’t familiar with him before the show). I read your autobiography and watched the movie starring Peter Facinelli, so I knew about you guys. Thanks for writing the blogs. I’m reading Jeff’s, too. Go No Limits!!

  • I’m loving the show! I must say, Erik, I’m a little upset, you were the last one of the blogs to put up Episode 5. Are you slacking on us, or are you off on another big, secret adventure?
    What an episode, though! They really slammed the Gypsy’s for getting off track, but it seems like a lot of you all did.

    • Some of us have a life!

  • We’re enjoying the show a lot so far! We watch it every week, and we’re rooting for team No Limits. I really like the behind-the-scenes blog too. That makes it even more fun, to get these tidbits. I’m a little confused though. Were you saying Big Brother has more whining, or Expedition Impossible? Okay, just kidding! Thanks for the blogs, and hope your team wins.

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