CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Erik Weihenmayer stood on a concrete berm above a gushing crest of white water and cocked his head slightly. “Sounds gnar,” he said. He was referring to the ear-bone-rattling roar surrounding him, the sound of 536,000 gallons of water spewing each second through six industrial pumps at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Weihenmayer, considered among the most accomplished blind athletes in the world, is perhaps best known for being the first person without sight to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. But his accomplishments extend to other extreme sports, including ice climbing, solo sky-diving and paragliding. Now he wants to add kayaking, and he is gravely aware of the challenges.