Weihenmayer: When Jeff and I first talked about it, we said, "What are our goals here?" We were one of the most experienced teams, so we didn't want to get eliminated in one of the first episodes. That would have been embarrassing: I would have had to hang my head in shame! We thought, "If we're going to do this we definitely want to make a really proud showing." When I watch the shows now, after the fact, I think we have a lot to be proud of as a team, and the thing I'm most proud of is that even when we thought we were going to be sent home, we didn't turn on each other. If you look at the Fab 3, another team on the show, they totally turned on each other in that sailboat like, "I hate being here, you're the last person I ever want to be with, F-you!" We never did any of that: We were like, "Hey, if we're going home we'll go home like men, we'll go home proud and we'll stick together."Did the other teams underestimate you because Erik's blind, or was there an awareness like, "This guy's been up Everest, he's the real deal"?
Evans: I was acutely aware of everybody looking at us and sizing us up when we first landed in Marrakesh. Everyone was doing what we as humans do: We were sussing everybody out, looking at who potentially could beat us and who we could beat. At first no one knew about Erik and what we had done, and then it sort of slowly dawned on them, like "Oh, shit, that's the guy who climbed Everest. That could be problematic for us." There was a lot of underestimating, I'm sure, and perception's a big part of it, but Erik's been dealing with that and attacking it head on for his whole life.
Weihenmayer: We were all doing it. Even I'm guilty of judging a book by its cover, and I can't even see! Everybody was sizing everybody up. Like, I was thinking, "Oh, look at these gay guys, I don't want to be beat by a gay guy," and meanwhile the gay guys are going, "I don't want to be beat by a blind guy."
Evans: It makes for good competition: Nobody wants to be beat by a stereotype!Ten years ago, standing on top of Everest in what would have been a lifetime bucket list achievement for anybody, I get the sense you were up there thinking, "This is only the beginning."
Weihenmayer: When I stood up there on the summit all I was thinking was, "Holy cow, my life has changed!" I went through a year of being in this crazy zone just processing what we'd done and what it all meant, but when you're given a success like that, why waste it? I didn't want to look back in 20 years and say Everest was the biggest accomplishment of my life. I wanted to use that momentum to keep pushing myself and to keep inspiring other people living with disabilities.