Blind Mountaineer to conquer Everest

Blind American mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer (L) accompanied by his brother Mark talking to the press on arrival in Kathmandu, yesterday. Erik with his colleagues will leave Kathmandu in an attempt to climb Mount Everest on March 28

Katmandu (AFP) : 32-year-old blind American mountaineer, who has scaled four of the world's  seven major peaks, has arrived in Kathmandu for an assault on the highest one of all, Mount Everest.

Eric Weihenmayer, who lost his sight in both eyes at the age of 13 from an eye infection, and 11 other members of the expedition are scheduled to leave for Everest base camp on March 28 to begin their journey up the 8,848-metre mountain.

At Tribhuvan International airport upon his arrival yesterday, Weuhebmayer said, "I have an equal chance of success as any other normal climber."

"However, a successful ascent of Mount Everest will largely depend on the weather conditions apart from being skillful and careful," he further said, "After reaching the summit of Mount Everest, I will bring back a stone from the summit if it is not prohibited under Nepalese law."

Weihenmayer said his fellow climbers would wear bells so he could follow their path up the southeast ridge, and that he would use a walking stick to help cover difficult ground.

"Eric Weihenmayer is climbing Everest just to prove that handicapped persons are also equally fit to tackle the world's toughest jobs including the limbing of awesome Everest," said Pasquale Scaturro, expedition leader and Everest summitter.