Tom Foreman: Other climbers look at great chasms and fear them, you hear them?
Erik Weihenmeyer: Yeah. I can hear the sound of space around me; sound vibrations that are constantly bouncing off of objects and coming back at us. And you can hear the sound of open space and the sound of closed space. So definitely, when I'm near a drop-off, I can hear it.
Tom Foreman: Is it just as frightening to you as it would be to anybody else?
Erik Weihenmeyer: It's an overwhelming and pretty scary sound, but I'm not looking, you know, thousands of feet down, so I'm not as freaked out as somebody looking down into some scary crevasse.
Tom Foreman: As you pushed up toward the top, tell me what that was like.
Erik Weihenmeyer: You climb down the South Summit and you're crossing this ridge and I could hear the sounds all around me. It's the width of a picnic table, and (I was) just putting one step in front of the next and trying to keep a very clear, focussed mind, because I just knew that wasn't a place to make a mistake.
When I actually got to the Hillary Step I was in my element: Feeling my way up this rock face was just excellent. 29,000 feet [8,840 meters] and it felt great, and I belly-flopped my way over the top. From there I knew it was just about a half-an-hour trudge to the actual summit.
Tom Foreman: All of us who have not been there, imagine the view. What was the sensation for you?
Erik Weihenmeyer: I could hear prayer flags flapping in the breeze and I could hear the wind and the sound of space and I reached down and touched the snow. I didn't have those views dropping away in front of me, you know, but I think a summit is a lot of an internal feeling anyway. When people say they summit mountains for a view, you know: Get a pretty picture of the mountain and save yourself two-and-a-half months of work. I think it's a lot of an internal symbol of what your life is about.
Tom Foreman: And it was worth it.
Erik Weihenmeyer: And it was worth it. Yeah.
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Everest Melting? High Signs of Climate Change
Everest Anniversary Expedition Wrap-Up
National Geographic 50th Anniversary Everest Expedition Reaches Summit
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Life on Assignment: Himalaya's Cho Oyu (Audio)
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National Geographic Channel: Surviving Everest