Fascinating. Poignant. Astounding. This is the story of a man, blind since he was thirteen years old, who pushes past his limitations to summit Mt. Everest. "Touch the Top of the World" is Erik Weihenmayer's moving momoir of his determination to break through barriers commonly faced by the visually challenged to ultimatly accomplish his dream of climbing the world's highest peaks (something few climbers have done). It's an inspiring read; one I enjoyed and suspect you will, too.
In this moving and adventure-packed memoir, Weihenmayer begins with his gradual loss of sight as a very young child. By the time he became fully blind in high school, he had already developed the traits that would carry him to the summits of some of the world's highest mountains as well as onto the frequently hazardous slopes of daily life: charm, resilience, a sense of humor, a love of danger and a concern for others. His eloquent memoir exhibits all these traits. Weihenmayer--a thrill seeker who skydives, climbs mountains and skis--devotes the first half of the book to his adolescence, punctuated by his loss of sight, his mother's sudden death and his diligent efforts not only to pick up girls, but first to figure out which ones were attractive. With its many tales of pranks, adventures and the talents of his guide dog, this half alone is worth the price of admission. He goes on to chronicle his young adulthood, including his teaching career and his passion for climbing, seeded during a month-long skills camp for blind adolescents and blossoming on his harrowing ascent of Mount McKinley. He describes fearsome ascents of Kilimanjaro--with his fiancâe, so they can be married near the crater summit--El Capitan and Aconcagua's Polish Glacier. Weihenmayer tells his extraordinary story with humor, honesty and vivid detail, and his fortitude and enthusiasm are deeply inspiring.
While I agree that Erik W.is phenomenal in facing his life challenges, I cannot give so strong an endorsement of the book itself. I am not a book editor but if I were, I would have substantially edited & pared down the nearly 350 pp. Sometimes, I felt that the plodding through the chapters was somehow intentional to set the tone for the slowness of the climb & reaching the end of a chapter was analogous to victory over the adversity of completing a climb.I also think an editor should have picked up on the "Mary and I vs Mary and me's" and "taught" vs "taut". Very inspirational book if you can get beyond those distractions.