Wednesday Dec 6, 2023
Wednesday Dec 6, 2023

Visually impaired climber to summit 14 peaks

Visually impaired mountaineer Jill Wheatley says climbing is a gift after surviving traumatic brain injury.

2022 May 17, 13:58, Kathmandu
Photo: Jill Wheatley

As the Spring season draws a lot of attention to summit the highest peak of the world, within the shadows of Everest, Canadian Jill Wheatley has a vision focused on something even bigger. The visually impaired climber has already summited Kanchenjunga (8586 m), the world’s 3rd highest peak on May 7. And last month, she successfully climbed the 5th tallest mountain, Dhaulagiri (8167m). But sadly the journey to the top was not smooth, she and her team were off track despite being so close to the summit and had to return to the high camp. The team had to start again from 5,600m few days later.

Photo: Jill Wheatley
Photo: Jill Wheatley
Photo: Jill Wheatley
Photo: Jill Wheatley

All part of a personal project, Vision 8000, Wheatley is currently on her way to ascend Makalu standing at 8463m. Her plan is to climb 14 peaks that stand above 8000 m around the world with the aim to break down the stigma associated with traumatic brain injury, vision loss, and eating disorders, all of which are part of her story following an accident in 2014. From autonomous expat racing bikes throughout the European alps to the back of an ambulance racing down the autobahn, the intensive care to a wheelchair, Wheatley survived a surreal sports accident in Bavaria while working as a Health, Sport Science, and Physical Education teacher. After a traumatic brain injury, she lost 70% of her vision and faced a life-threatening eating disorder that led her to 7 hospitals and rehabilitation centers in 3 countries. As she struggled with a huge sense of loss, Wheatley retreated to the mountains after being released from the hospital. Finding serendipity in her story, Wheatley now thrives on helping others find light in the darkness.

Photo: Jill Wheatley
Photo: Jill Wheatley

With summiting Manaslu (8163m), the world’s 8th highest peak, in autumn last year, Makalu will be Wheatley’s 4th out of the 14 peaks that stand above 8000m. Then Wheatley will head to Pakistan to climb K2 (8 611 m), Broad Peak (8047m), and Nanga Parbat (8 125 m) before returning to Nepal for Cho Oyu (8 201 m) in autumn.


summit Everest Dhaulagiri Makalu brain injury K2 Broad Peak Nanga Parbat
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