On Friday February 28 at Centennial Theatre meet Erik Weihenmayer, one of the world’s most accomplished athletes and a Time Magazine cover story. In Michael Brown’s new film The Weight of Water, it features Erik as a blind man balancing his fear in the chaos of kayaking whitewater rapids . . . not to mention drowning, and the powerful desire to be free from a prison of darkness. Erik embarks, paddling his own boat, into the home of the most iconic whitewater in the world, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Erik has already overcome some stunning challenges for both sighted and blind people, including climbing Mount Everest. Whitewater kayaking is different, the current moves unpredictably, the rocks that make up that canyon walls are unforgiving, the roar cuts him off from his guide’s voice and violent waves threaten his kayak. His friends are also in jeopardy as they fight for their own survival.
For Erik, this is not about proving something to the world. He did that when he climbed Mount Everest. This is about achieving that elusive state that so many of us seek, to be truly present.
It’s so hard to be fully in the moment because there’s so much fear, there’s so much anxiety, it’s like a person looking through a window at an experience rather than being in the experience.
– Erik Weihenmayer
He soon discovers that all of his preparation and practice are not going to be enough. As the Grand Canyon’s crowning rapid, Lava Falls draws closer, Erik’s fear grows till it nearly paralyzes him.
When disaster inevitably strikes, Erik is then faced with a powerful choice and a rare chance to change the outcome. This choice defines the journey.
In 2001, Erik became the first blind person in history to climb Mount Everest and all of the Seven Summits – the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. He continually seeks out new adventures, focusing on empowering people traditionally swept to the sidelines of life. He founded No Barriers, which helps people with challenges tap into the human spirit, break through barriers, and contribute to the world. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Everest ascent, Erik and his team founded a new No Barriers program, No Barriers Warriors, which uses teamwork and the mountains as a transformative force to help veterans reclaim their lives after devastating injuries.
Erik is also the author of the best-selling memoir, Touch the Top of the World, which was made into a feature film. For his second book, The Adversity Advantage, Erik teamed up with psychologist Dr. Paul Stoltz to show you how to turn everyday struggles into everyday greatness. Erik’s newest book, No Barriers is a dive into the heart and mind at the core of the turbulent human experience. It is an exploration of the light that burns in all of us, the obstacles that threaten to extinguish that light, and the treacherous ascent towards growth and rebirth. Erik is a graduate of Boston College and earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Lesley University. He lives with his wife and two children in Golden, Colorado.