On the following web page:
is an article about a wonderful program called Soldiers to Summits which is run by the non-profit group, No Barriers USA. The program takes military veterans who have disabilities to scale mountains all over the world with the assistance of experienced guides.
Although I have done technical climbing such as this, most of my mountain climbing these days is on mountains that can be hiked, without the need of ropes or climbing gear. The experience has all of the same elements as the mountains these military veterans are climbing.
There’s the unknown. When my husband, dog, and I begin a climb to the top of a mountain we never know what to expect. There’s the challenge of rock faces that require that I release my dog to her own devices because I have to go hand over hand. There’s the satisfaction of making it up one of these rock faces to find her right there waiting for me. There’s the perseverance, the putting one foot in front of the other that gets me, step by step, closer to my goal. There’s the intricate, almost intimate, communication between the three of us. And there’s the triumph of reaching a summet with my beloved dog and the man who makes these journeys with me.
In the article on the web page about Soldiers to Summets is the following:
But for Iraq War vet Steve Baskis, the climb up the 20,100-foot Lobuche Peak in Nepal didn’t end with a soul-stirring view of the Himalayas. While his fellow military veteran climbers could gaze out at Mount Everest and the majestic valley below, Baskis was in darkness.
“It is a painful thing to be blind,” said Baskis, who lost his sight to a roadside bomb blast in 2008. “I miss a lot of things. I miss being able to see campfires, watching the snow fall, facial expressions. It’s something that I can adapt to and push past, but I hate being blind.”
I wish I could tell him that this will change. Over time, all of this will change. When I reach the summit of a mountain blindness, any sense of loss, any thoughts of things I can’t do disappears. My spirit soars out into the vastness before me. The wide open feeling of standing on a mountaintop is pure glory.
In time, “Darkness” disappears from vocabularies. Thoughts of what you can’t do anymore vanish. Blindness becomes simply a part of who you are. Instead of saying to yourself, “I hate being blind,” you will find yourself saying, “Life is beautiful, full of challenge, love, a wonderful thing.