Peak: Mt Kosciusko

Continent: Australia
Summit: 7,316 feet
Date: September 2002

Special Achievement: First blind ski descent

Erik & Kevin Skin up

As for reaching the seven summits a new plan had been formulated to paraglide off of Australia’s highest summit – the final chapter of Erik’s quest to be the first blind man to scale the seven summits. A few months after summiting and skiing down Elbrus in Russia, we again were skiing – this time upside down as we were in the southern hemisphere. A trip out to Thredbo ski resort for what was supposed to be a cakewalk of a summit. We thought that flying off the summit would make this tour a little more special. So after a number of lessons we brought all our gear down only to be denied by the rain and the wind. After a few days of rain and then clear skies the run was perfectly frozen for our summit bid.

We left at 4 a.m. so as to get good sunrise pictures near the summit of this peak. As we climbed one of our team members fell when his skins lost their purchase on the icy slope sending him spinning 300M to the bottom of the slope nearly hitting the trees. Laughing in relief, as we heard him yell from below “I’m OK boss!”, another skier went down – this time right in front of me. I couldn’t move out of the way fast enough and before I knew it I was riding down the mountain on the world’s blindest man. I set my edges and we came to a stop. Breathing a sigh of relief I hear a shout “Get off me!” To which I reply, “Oh I’m sorry. You knocked me down and I saved your life, next time I will be more careful and get out of your way and let you slide to the bottom too.” We made it up the hill and as the sun came up so did the clouds and the winds. I pulled out my compass to get a bearing on where the true summit may be and we all headed into the 65mph winds and whiteout. After a bit of guesswork/teamwork we stood on top of that icy summit at 8:30 a.m. making this a momentous occasion in mountaineering’s history.

Mike Brown froze his hands trying to film the event as the rest of us sipped on champagne and cheered the moment. A brief windy celebration and then a nice ski down to a wonderful “breaky” at the resort. The trip ended with a great time at Brighton beach and Erik on Australian Television telling the world how he had saved my life when he fell and was sliding down the treacherous icy slopes in the dark. I am thankful for his ability to hone in on sounds like a bat and the courage it took to risk his life for mine as well as his ability to get the facts mixed up. As much as we kid, I am thankful to God for the opportunities we have in the mountains together and I am thankful for the friendship we share which is built upon trust, respect and a willingness to try what the world tells us is crazy. Giving others the courage to get out and try to break down some of the barriers in their own lives is not something we set out to do, but comes as a great result of what we have been able to do. Why not take a chance today on something you have been dreaming of all of your yesterdays?