1 MIN reading: the blind man and the Everest (ENG/PORT)

Erik Weihenmayer

Little by little we seem to grow used to the same metaphors for life. I met a reader in Hamburg who decides to share his experience with me about climbing in life. He discovered what hotel I am in, and has some criticism to make of my page in the Internet. After making some harsh comments, he asks:
“Can a blind man climb Mount Everest?”
“I don’t think so,” I answer.
“Why don’t you answer ‘perhaps’?”

I am almost certain that I am in the company of a “compulsive optimist.” One thing is the whole universe conspiring for our dreams to become true, quite another is to place yourself in front of absolutely unnecessary challenges, which can lead to death or unpredictable failure.
I explain that I have to leave for an appointment, but the reader does not give up.

“The blind can climb Everest, the highest mountain in the world (8,848 meters). Not only can they do it, but I happen to know of at least one blind person who did it. His name is Erik Weihenmayer. In 2001, Weihenmayer managed the feat. Meanwhile, people complain that they cannot afford a better car, more elegant clothes, and a salary that matches their abilities.”
“Are you sure?”
But we are interrupted in our conversation; it is time for the appointment that has brought me to Hamburg. I thank him for his attention, ask him to send me suggestions for my page on the Internet, we take another picture and then say goodbye.

At three o’clock in the morning, returning from that event, I reach into my pocket for the key to my room and discover the piece of paper where he had jotted down the blind man’s name.
Even knowing that I have to travel to Cairo in a couple of hours, I turn on the computer, and there it is:

“On 25 May 2001, at the age of 32, Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person to reach the top of the highest mountain in the world. A former high-school teacher, he received the ESPN and IDEA prize for his courage in overcoming the limits that his physical condition permitted. Besides Everest, Erik Weihenmayer has climbed the other seven highest mountains in the world, including Aconcagua in Argentina and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania”.


encontro com um leitor em Hamburgo, que resolve dividir comigo sua experiíªncia a respeito das escaladas na vida. Descobriu em que hotel estou, tem uma série de crí­ticas sobre a minha página na internet. Faz comentários duros, e depois pergunta:
– Pode um cego escalar o monte Everest?
– Acho que ní£o – respondo.
– Por que vocíª ní£o responde: talvez?

Já tenho quase certeza que estou diante de um “otimista compulsivo.” Uma coisa é o universo inteiro conspirar para que nossos sonhos sejam realizados, outra coisa é colocar-se diante de desafios absolutamente desnecessários, que podem resultar em morte ou em fracassos previsí­veis.
Explico que tenho que sair para um compromisso, mas o leitor ní£o desiste.
– Cegos podem escalar o Everest, a montanha mais alta do mundo ( 8.848 metros). Ní£o apenas podem, como sei que pelo menos um deles escalou. Seu nome é Erik Weihenmayer. Em 2001, Weihenmayer conseguiu. E enquanto isso, as pessoas ficam se queixando que ní£o conseguem um carro melhor, uma roupa mais elegante, um salário í  altura de suas capacidades.
Somos interrompidos em nossa conversa, é hora do compromisso que me trouxe até Hamburgo. Agradeí§o sua atení§í£o, peí§o que me envie sugestíµes sobre a minha página na internet, tiramos mais uma foto, e nos despedimos.

í€s tríªs horas da manhí£, voltando do tal evento, coloco a mí£o no bolso para pegar a chave do quarto, e descubro o papel onde havia anotado o tal nome. Mesmo sabendo que tenho que viajar para o Cairo em algumas horas, ligo o computador, e ali está:

“No dia 25 de maio de 2001, aos 32 anos de idade, Erik Weihenmayer se tornou o primeiro cego a atingir o topo da montanha mais alta do mundo. Ex-professor de ginásio, recebeu o príªmio da ESPN e da IDEA por sua coragem em ir além dos limites que sua condií§í£o fí­sica permitia. Além do Everest, Erik Weihenmayer escalou as outras sete montanhas mais altas do planeta, entre as quais o Aconcagua (Argentina) e o Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)”.


  1. sunny suman says:

    I never knew of such a person. But now, that I know, it will keep inspiring me whenever I feel like stepping back. Really inspiring! Thanks!

  2. Daniele da Luz Larri says:

    ¨Uma coisa é o universo inteiro conspirar para que nossos sonhos sejam realizados, outra coisa é colocar-se diante de desafios absolutamente desnecessários, que podem resultar em morte ou em fracassos previsí­veis.¨
    Paulo, como saber o limite entre sonho e desafio desnecessário? Tento manter minha mente aberta e confiante porque sei ¨que o que somos é consequencia do que pensamos¨(Buddha)e que o universo conspira a nosso favor; mas nao consigo entender (ver)o limite entre as duas situaí§oes, e me pergunto diversas vezes: ¨será que eu sonho com as coisas erradas?¨ Saludos!

    1. katie says:

      so true.
      “what is the line between dream and unnecessary challenge?”
      for many dreams I need to work for them and prepare. I wonder whether one get hints for unnecessary challenges at this time.

      for example: long-distance mushing. there is a blind musher, rachel scdoris, who has done several long distance sled dog races over 1,000 miles with 16 dogs. hard work.

      another time, a young man having a bad cancer tries to realize one of his big dreams, trains for one year and also participates in a long distance sled dog race. he had to give up having several bad accidents.

      so who am I? rachel or this other dreamer?

  3. Isso prova que nada é impossí­vel. Se vocíª luta muito por um sonho e se esse sonho vai te trazer algum bem..tudo conspira para que ele realize.

  4. @MissMejiaHQ says:

    Paulo what a great story and thank you for your honesty in sharing it here. This line “to place yourself in front of absolutely unnecessary challenges, which can lead to death or unpredictable failure.” is what keeps humanity blinded to the wisdom of impossible is nothing as the word itself says I’M POSSIBLE. This of course must not be taken literally as there are obvious disclaimers.

    For all who have read The Alchemist you can appreciate how critical it is for people to become familiar with who they are and what their personal legend is and follow that. The way I see it is that Paulo you are right in saying you didn’t think a blind person could climb it, however, could it be done is really the exception as with Weihenmayer; climbing that mountain was already ingrained in his DNA, nothing could stop him. To attempt to duplicate that kind of intelligence on our own isn’t wise.

    Nothing in life is free. For every extraordinary accomplishment something extraordinary must also be given. Sometimes we want to do things or have things without really thinking, “Is this really for me? Am I willing to do what needs to be done to have what I desire? Do I want to earn this thing or do I just want it to fall on my lap?” If you answer no to any of those questions you should reconsider.

  5. João Estevam says:


    A verdade é que ní£o existem limitaí§íµes, as limitaí§íµes sí£o colocadas por nossas cabeí§as, aí­ eu lembro da caní§í£o do Raulzito que dizia: “…minha cabeí§a, só pensa aquilo que ela aprendeu, por isso mesmo eu ní£o confio nela eu sou mais eu…”. Essa semana eu voltei a ler seus livros, comprei um exemplar do “O Aleph”, ainda ní£o conclui mas parece que vocíª voltou a escrever com o coraí§í£o e ní£o com a cabeí§a, muito obrigado, eu precisava ler novamente um livro mágico, fazia algum tempo que tinha deixado de ler seus livros, o último foi o Zahir. Um grande abraí§o. Obrigado.

  6. Writer_mo says:

    How stupid they are. “Meanwhile, people complain that they cannot afford a better car, more elegant clothes, and a salary that matches their abilities.”

    But at this moment, I still remain same as a stupid. I had better go to Santiago.

    From South Korea, Mo.

  7. Jaqueline Flores says:

    Talvez ele posso “enchergar” essa maravilha de outra forma, como de estar reformulando ideias, de pessoas de todo mundo, inclusive de um escritor renomado como paulo cuelho.

  8. Yeray says:

    A veces vamos en un coche conduciendo y no disfrutamos del paisaje, de la brisa que nos entra por el cristal, de la conversación con nuestros amigos.Me refiero que este señor ha escalo el Everest y no ha visto las imagenes sorprendentes que hay . . . pero ha estado ahí­ . . . lo que pretendo explicar es que a veces no valoramos nuestros sentidos como deberí­an.En fin,lo que ha hecho este hombre es de admirací­ón.Sobran palabras . . .

  9. Liina says:

    Yeah. We cannot fall into the comfortizm of being scared and pulling ourselves away from what we really want to do. We all have our odd-spots, our disabilities, wether visual or not, physical or mental. Lets face it – we are all a bunch of weirdos. Yet, there we all are… living. With a little luck, love and care we are on our journey… :)

    What an amazing encounter, Paulo. Thank you for sharing one of your readers story!

    Much love,

  10. Annie says:

    I would love to sit up there…. as long as i remember myself, till now, i have been always searching for places that are closer to the sky.. it would be a tall wall in the playground, or going as high as i could in the playground swings,or the chimney on a roof or just the roof and so on..

    Lately i considered how every sense is unique and non replaceable.. it’s important not to forget how important and miraculous is to see, to hear, to smell, to touch, to taste.. to FEEL with every fiber of our being ..
    And he did the impossible.. He replaced his eyes with the eyes of his heart.. With God everything is possible..

    Love and Gratitude

    1. Marie says:

      It really says Annie:) Since you love the sky, just a sample of the 200th parachute jump made by Lawrence. He’s blind and president of the association Handöl. In this video, but happiness and love! :)

      Light & Love,

    2. Marie says:

      Sorry Annie, I forgot to put the link! :)


    3. Annie says:

      this is perfect, i will definitely do this one day!!! thank you so much dear Marie for this

      Love and gratitude

  11. breda says:

    Seeing outside the box! Very inspiring ,shows great courage and strength : ) Love Breda

  12. Chris says:

    I like this answer. Wish we all have the same attitude.

    “Can a blind man climb Mount Everest?”
    “I don’t think so,” I answer.
    “Why don’t you answer ‘perhaps’?”

  13. ghada kabbara says:

    un non-voyant peut avoir plus de sagesse qu’une personne qui a les 5 sens intacts et ne sait les employer efficacement.GOD bless Weihenmayer.cette escalade est une reelle priere,un merci au BON DIEU

  14. cathy says:

    Carí­ssimo(s) amigo(s)

    O Povo lá sabe o que diz quando, na simplicidade, mas numa infinita sabedoria, diz que “o pior cego é aquele que ní£o quer ver”, ao qual eu acrescentaria as palavras de Exupery “o essencial é inví­sivel aos olhos”. Quií§á tudo se resuma í  paixí£o pela VIDA :) … abraí§o deste lado do mar

  15. marie-christine says:

    “L’aveugle et l’Everest

    Petit a petit nous semblons nous habituer aux metaphores a vie. J’ai rencontre un lecteur a Hambourg qui decide de partager son experience avec moi concernant l’ascension dans la vie. Il a decouvert dans quel hotel je me trouve et a quelques critiques a faire de ma page sur l’Internet.
    Apres avoir des commentaires pas tres tendres, il demande:
    “Est-ce qu’un aveugle peut faire l’ascension de l’Everest?”
    -“Je ne pense pas”, je reponds.
    -“Pourquoi ne repondez-vous pas “peut-etre.”?
    Je suis convaincu que je suis en presence d’un optimiste compulsif. Une chose est, tout l’Univers conspire pour que nos reves deviennent realite, toute une autre que de se placer en face de defis tout a fait inutiles qui peuvent entrainer la mort ou un echec imprevisible.
    Je lui explique que je dois partir pour un rendez-vous mais le lecteur ne capitule pas.
    -“Les aveugles peuvent escalader l’Everest, la plus grand montagne du monde (8848 metre). Non seulement ils peuvent le faire, mais je connais au moins une personne aveugle qui l’a fait. Il s’appelle Erik Weinhenmayer. En 2001, il a reussi l’exploit. Pendant ce temps, les gens se plaignent qu’ils n’ont pas les moyens de s’acheter une meilleur voiture, des vetements plus elegants et un salaire qui correspond a leurs aptitudes.”
    -“Vous en etes sur?”
    Mais nous sommes interrompus dans notre conversation,je dois me rendre au rendez-vous pour lequel je suis venu a Hambourg. Je le remercie de son attention, lui demande de m’envoyer des suggestions pour ma page sur l’Internet, nous prenons une autre photo, puis nous faisons nos adieux.
    A trois heures du matin, de retour de cet evenement, je mets la main dans ma poche pour attraper la clef de ma chambre et decouvre le morceau de papier ou il avait note le nom de l’aveugle.
    Meme en sachant que je dois partir pour Le Caire dans quelques heures, je mets l’ordinateur en marche et il est la.

    “Le 25 mai 2001,a l’age de 32 ans, Erik Weinhemayer est devenu la premiere personne aveugle a atteindre le sommet de la plus haute montagne du monde. Un ancien enseignant d’ecole secondaire, il a recu le prix ESPN et IDEA pour son courage en surmontant les limites que sa condition physique a permis. Outre Everest, Erik Weinhemayer a gravi les sept plus hautes montagnes du monde ,y compris l’Aconcagua en Argentine et le Kilimandjaro en Tanzanie.”

    1. Mariamne says:

      Paulo: Hay veces que uno es ciego y no sabe a donde
      va, existe “el optimismo compulsivo” que hay que saber
      guiar para poder llegar, aunque sea al monte Everest.
      Con mucho amor.

  16. Heart says:

    Great example for all of us. To face a huge challenge like this, and actually succeed, will give a confidence and sense of victory, like nothing else.

  17. marie-christine says:

    What a beautiful name “Eve rest” for a mountain!

    1. barnabas asamoah says:

      it is really.Eve Rest.WOWW!! it got lots of meaning

  18. Satora says:

    An interview with Erik Weihenmayer



    1. marie-christine says:

      Thanks Satora.
      Acceptation is the key.

      “You accept something until you get your head beaten many times.”

      I like Erik’s definition of “vision”

      “Confidence without experience and preparation is empty. I does not mean a thing.”

    2. Jane Stewart says:

      Loved it, the WOL team. Like all of us.
      Thankyou, Love

    3. katie says:

      cool, thanks satora.
      I like how he defines the summit.
      this is such a great addition to the Paulo’s contribution about killing dreams.
      it’s a great round-up.

  19. margherita says:

    Caro Paulo,
    anch’io posso dire con assoluto orgoglio che conosco un uomo molto, molto coraggioso e speciale, al pari del sig. Erik Weihenmayer. Non aveva neanche trent’anni e gli dissero che lui non avrebbe pií¹ camminato, che la sua vita sarebbe stata un inferno, che, molto probabilmente non avrebbe neanche vissuto a lungo.
    Sono passati pií¹ di trent’anni e quell’uomo ancora cammina, la sua vita e la mia sono state due vite bellissime (anche se molto sofferte, quindi, bellissime anche per questo motivo. e non è affatto un controsenso, ma la realtí ), ed ancora vive, pensa, ama. E’ l’uomo pií¹ forte e dolce che conosca. Quell’uomo è mio marito ed ha saputo essere un faro non solo per la nostra famiglia, ma anche per tanta altra gente che, ironia della sorte, lo invidia pure.
    Quindi, se sei cieco e vuoi, puoi vedere, se sei muto e vuoi, puoi parlare, se il tuo passo è incerto e tu vuoi, puoi camminare.
    Ci sono tanti modi di vedere, di parlare, di muoversi. Basta trovare quello giusto, con l’aiuto della tua fede, della tua speranza e non pensare mai di essere pazzo se “vuoi” volare sulle ali dei tuoi sogni.
    Vero, Paulo?

  20. MONIKA says:

    I always knew: Teachers must be brave people. ;-)
    I also want to manage the “impossilbe” – to defeat cancer. The problem is you have nothing visible (like a mountain) in front of you. You can’t control it through will or strength. That makes you feel more helpless than a high mountain. Nevertheless I believe as long as I climb up and don’t loose faith I will not be defeated.

    1. noopuram says:

      Dear Monika,

      Power to your determination !

      Its my humle suggestion to you that you read books by Lance Armstrong that talk about his fight with cancer.

      There has to be a way out of any maze even though you may not be the first to get out of it and win the trophy.

      Sending your way a prayer and warm wishes,

      Get well soon and take care !


  21. I have read this story before, It’s Wonderful! The senses (besides visual) of the blind are very heightened since they need to reply on them more, and also their intuition is stronger as well.
    Synchronicity… I just came across this video which is also very inspiring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jeOguqNIAo
    Thank you for always inspiring dear Paulo!

    Love and kisses

  22. Gabriela says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Did not expect you to say to the reader what you said…
    Becoming old?

    With all due respect, of course.

  23. CG says:

    Yes, I saw this film on TV some time ago.
    It was very moving. Especially the children.
    Every persom taking part in this trip, even the attendats,
    had to solve a lot of physical and mental challenges.
    It was a very impressing lesson about what is possible and where the limits are.

  24. marie-christine says:

    Every time I have a blind-pot, I remember that story to elevate me.
    Congratulations Erik!

    Everybody is capable of understanding the laws of nature. You do not need to have qualifications – just understanding and a photographic memory –
    It is about rythm, movement and waves going up and down – until you notice the right balance – the one that beats with your heart –
    Fantasy Island is where dreams are made of. It is your spot on the map, the Agenda for the Day.
    Imagine a triangle as a Unit. One represents the man, the other one the woman and the 3rd one the child.
    If the Unit is to remain, you need participation from all of them.
    It takes a blind mind to reach the summit.
    Global warming is our problem. Our problem is our solution. Unless we keep our feet firmly on the ground – OUR ROOTS – Global warming is US – OUR HOME –
    This can only be achieved by joining hands and bringing some human warmth onto each other.
    Charity starts at the bottom. not at the top … and all it takes is a human heart that is able to see into your heart.

    “I am not only a pacifist, but a militant pacifist, I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” Albert Einstein

  25. Shahin Sahraei says:

    Life is a very sweet peculiar thing. I’ve been believing that your real dream (or nightmare) is here in this world. Nothing is out of one’s reach if one wants.

  26. THELMA says:

    The power of WILL!
    Thelma xxx

  27. nikamarie says:

    Death is always going to be a companion even if you don’t acknowledge it. So there is no reason to avoid things that you want to accomplish because there is always a chance that death might decide one day to stop being a companion and submerge with you.

  28. Jane Stewart says:

    ps What a great photo!!!!

    More Love, Jane

  29. Jane Stewart says:

    Is it necessary to climb the mountain? Perhaps not, to others. But for Erik, it is possible.

    ‘If you aren’t pushing your limits, you aren’t going far enough, and you still don’t know who you are.’
    – Paulo Coelho

    Reminds me of a fall that I had while at A Coruna. The inner length of my right leg and foot is dead and doesn’t ‘feel’ uneven terrain while walking. I may be able to avoid falls by looking at the ground while walking or sitting at home in this apartment but that’s a very uninteresting view and such a sad thought. As well, it could just as easily have happened right here by a rock or pebble on the sidewalk.

    Some dreams may seem silly or stupid, except the dreamer, who doesn’t focus on failing (or falling) but rather, living and possibilities.

    An encouraging story. Thankyou Paulo.
    Love and Blessings,
    Jane xo

  30. ojasi mehta says:

    Truly inspiring….
    we need such mental push-ups from time to time.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  31. UmaS says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Your “The Alchemist” is the one, which inspired me to believe in the power of universe – when we really want something, the universe conspires to give it to us. And from then, I’ve always voiced my thoughts aloud, in case the universe is hearing me then. And things have changed for the better.

    Now, this story is another inspiration, that physical disabilities don’t matter in the quest for things. Thank you sharing this.

    Isn’t it also the time to stop complaining and try to do things better, with whatever is available with us ???

    Thanks to this reader from Hamburg. :)


  33. aksh says:

    isn’t it success which changes the perspective from one of “quite another is to place yourself in front of absolutely unnecessary challenges” to one of appreciation !

    had the chap died in the attempt ?

    For the people, society – it’s not the attempt which matters, it’s success or failure which matters; for the individual ????


  34. Jason says:

    Many people must be thinking about whether it was them with whom the reader met in hotel. how many times we set our own limitations on those around us. just do it and let them ask how.

  35. cyclopseven says:

    For the purpose of survival, Mother Nature has planted Her knowledge in our brain. Survivors fight the odds by using that very knowledge to complete their wishes. The faint hearted ends up without trying themselves, and always satisfied with what they have. Blindness is just a physical condition, but the energy that sustains the vision is interconnected with everything in this universe. When an endeavor is taken with sincere motives, nature gracefully lift us with Her love. And, Erik Weihenmayer has proved it.

  36. Jeffeny Gutierrez says:

    I READ tHIS story before and it made me cry. It demostrated that when you really want something the whole universe conspires to make it true. I thank you for letting me remember this story.

  37. Inspiration says:

    Hi Paulo,
    I love your writings because they have so much insight and they are touching.
    I would like to write to you later, and perhaps exchange views about life experiences.
    I’m very social, yet I have no friends. I don’t trust anybody. Maybe through writing, I can tell you my way of thinking. I’m not awkward, right!


  38. JK says:

    Yes, and I would suggest the film, “Blindsight”, on the blind children who attempted to climb Everest with Weihenmayer, and whose teacher, as they neared the summit, made the difficult decision to back off and not complete the climb. A lot of bravery in her action as well. And a significant amount of wisdom.