Beyond All Barriers

The film the Weight of Water follows Weihenmayer on the grand canyon.

Erik Weinhenmayer keeps pushing forward. He became the first blind person to summit Mount Everest in 2001 and subsequently completed the Seven Summits in 2008. In 2014, he kayaked down the Grand Canyon, an accomplishment documented in the new film The Weight of Water.

Beyond those adventures, the Golden, Colorado, resident has poured his effort and energy into No Barriers, the nonprofit he helped found in 2003. Built around the idea of using transformative experiences, often in the wilderness, the organization teaches people that no barrier in their life—either physical or psychological—is too big that it can’t be overcome. In the process, it helps folks reclaim their lives.

With a focus on middle- and high-school-aged children, No Barriers has continually broadened its reach over the past 16 years. Its annual summit allows thousands to take the message back to their communities and its veterans program is helping vets reintegrate into society after the rigors of war. No Barriers is planning on opening the first fully accessible wilderness camp in Colorado next summer. Over 30,000 people have gone through No Barriers programs and the organization projects to double that number in the next few years.

Through it all, Weihenmayer has been the public face of the nonprofit, intimately involved in leading expeditions and teaching classes. When asked why he is so dedicated, he says, “Lots of people struggle and end up in dark places. I want to help them find their way forward. It’s all that matters to me.”

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