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Blind climber Andy Holzer will try to climb Everest

Blind climber Andy Holzer on Carstencz Pyramid (© Andreas Unterkreuter)

Blind climber Andy Holzer on Carstencz Pyramid (© Andreas Unterkreuter)

“I have decided to make a big journey with my friends.” With these simple words Andy Holzer has announced his so far most spectacular project. The blind climber wants to get upon the roof of the world, the summit of Mount Everest. On 2 April the 47-year-old Austrian will start with his friends Andreas Unterkreuter, Wolfgang Klocker and Daniel Kopp to Nepal, in order to climb the highest mountain on earth. “My motivation is simply that I want to use an opportunity in life”, Andy writes on his homepage. “Never before I was, and due to the quickly passing years probably never after I will be in such a physical, mental and logistical constitution to be able to reach this secret dream of every true mountaineer.” In short: Now or never!

More than just “a cool idea”

Andy at the IMS 2013

Andy at the IMS 2013

Last October, when I asked Andy at the International Mountain Summit in Brixen about his Everest plans, he had called a trip to the highest mountain “a cool idea” but had played down the issue. Mount Everest was “not my absolutely focused goal now”, Holzer said then. It is the only one of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents, which is still missing in his collection. But talking to me, Andy intimated how much he was fascinated by Everest: “I think that anyone who does not feel tears in his eyes when he climbs up the Hillary Step and the last few meters to the highest point in the world, has no business being there. If there is no emotion on Everest, where else?“

Always in the dark

Andy and his helpers will use bottled oxygen. That is a matter of course, writes Holzer and refers to the greater risk for him as a blind climber to cool down. “Due to the control of body temperature it is actually impossible to climb without oxygen in step with another climber. If my friend is only ten meters away from me, I can not go on because I am no longer able to hear exactly the creaking of his crampons. And I fall by the wayside.” By the way, he is waiving of another tool, Andy says jokingly: “I am climbing without headlight, even in daylight. Always in the dark.”

If the Austrian reaches the highest point at 8850 meters, he would be the second blind man on the summit of Mount Everest. The American Erik Weihenmayer was the first in 2001. Together with Erik, Andy has once formed a “double-blind” rope-team climbing in the Dolomites of Lienz in East Tyrol.


21. March 2014 | 17:29