Disability Pride Month, which is observed in July, is all about bringing awareness and taking pride in the range of abilities we have in our communities! We’re proud to have ShokzSquad members representing their disabilities with pride. One member, Zhang Hong, recently became the first Asian blind man to summit Mt. Everest. He shares more about his experience and what role AfterShokz played in his preparations below.
1. How long have you been climbing? And what role does climbing play in your life?
Zhang: I have been climbing since 2015. That was when I first heard about Mr. Eric, who is also blind. He was the only blind person who conquered Mt. Everest back then. He inspired me. I was wondering, “Why can’t I be a conqueror just like him?” It has been 6 years now. And within these 6 years, I conquered many snow mountains with high elevations. Ever since I started my climbing journey, my life has changed a lot. We all face many difficulties in our daily life. They could come from our family or career.
When I faced these difficulties, I always recalled those bigger obstacles and risks I encountered in mountain climbing. I never fail to face and accept those challenges when it comes to mountain climbing. My climbing journey gave me the courage to face challenges in my life. My anxiety and fear faded away. I can see this positive impact that climbing exerts on my life. It gives me a healthier mindset, makes me more goal-oriented and determined.
Chinese: _回答问题. 我是从15年偶然听说美国盲人艾瑞克。
2.Why Everest? Were there other treks that led you to this ultimate goal?
Zhang: As a blind person, I am always looking for the light in my life. For me, conquering Mt. Everest became the light of my life and enriched my experience. I see such an act as a positive impact on my kids and it inspires and comforts my wife. In the end, I realized my story not only encouraged my family but also other people. It is not just the light in my life, but a lighthouse in other people’s lives as well. It gives people strength and encouragement.
3. Who inspired and supported you in this goal?
Zhang: Mr. Eric is my role model. As the first blind person who conquered Mt. Everest, Mr. Eric’s story always inspires me and gives me confidence. At the same time, the support from my kids and my family means a lot to me as well.
4. What tools did you use to make the climb possible?
Zhang: There are no specific tools that I used to climb Mt. Everest. Mountain climbing for blind people is not so different from mountain climbing for everyone. We all face the same difficulties. It is fair for blind people and people with normal eyesight when it comes to mountain climbing. There is no specific tool that is designed for blind people to make mountain climbing easier.
5. What role did your AfterShokz headphones play in your preparation and climb to the top?
Zhang: Aftershokz’s headphones did bring ease to me. First of all, I do not have to put it on or take it off. The bone conduction design allows me to place it on my head even if I am not using it. It does not go into my ears, which gives me the freedom of knowing what is going on in the background. Secondly, it makes talking easier. It connects to our walkie-talkie through Bluetooth.
For example, with all the equipment we had on during mountain climbing, it was difficult to take out our walkie-talkies to talk. With AfterShokz’ headphones, we do not have to take out our walkie-talkies. Everything just goes through Bluetooth and can be directly forwarded to our captain. It definitely makes talking more efficient.
Follow Zhang’s team on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to learn more about his journey. And stay tuned for a full-length documentary of his trek coming soon.