Blind Climber Summits Grand Teton

Credit: Teton Adaptive Sports

Nancy Stevens of Bend, Oregon became the first blind woman to summit Grand Teton on August 22 at 9:46 p.m.

Stevens, who climbed with three friends and four Exum Mountain Guides, belayed her partners and rappelled on her own. She relied on guides' directions on which way to climb, but received no physical assistance. Stevens and her team completed the ascent in two days. Day one required a 7-mile hike with 5,000 feet of elevation gain to the Exum Hut at the Lower Saddle. The next morning, the team set out at 4:00 a.m. and returned to the parking lot at 10:30 p.m., completing the final leg in just under 19 hours.

Climbing the Grand Teton is no easy feat for anyone. At 13,770 feet, it is the highest peak in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. There are more than 35 routes to the top; however, even the easiest route, the Owen-Spalding, requires technical rock climbing skills and equipment.

Blind since birth, Stevens has tackled an impressive array intense physical challenges. She won three gold medals at the January 1998 Olympic trials for cross country skiing, and in fall 2000, completed a 3,000-mile bike ride across America to support young women in athletics.