Inspirational mountaineer becomes first BLIND climber to conquer one of world's most dangerous rock faces
Steve Bate, 35, scaled the 3,000ft 'El Capitan' monolith in California, even though his sight is deteriorating due to a degenerative eye condition
Inspirational climber Steve Bate has become the first mountaineer to conquer one of the world's most dangerous rock faces - despite being registered blind.
Steve, 35, scaled the 3,000ft 'El Capitan' monolith in California, even though his sight is deteriorating due to a degenerative eye condition.
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The former climbing instructor spent six days hauling himself up the granite slab in Yosemite National Park, sleeping at night in a hanging hammock.
Steve was diagnosed two years ago with degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa and is legally registered blind.
The day before his monumental feat, Steve was photographed and filmed on an accompanied climb on the same expanse of rock.
The next day, he started his epic solo quest - and he has since become the first blind person to climb El Capitan on their own.
Steve, from Moray, Scotland, lugged more than 100kg of equipment with him on his ascent and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the expedition.
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Steve's incurable eye disease is slowly destroying his sight from the outside inwards, a condition known as 'tunnel vision'.
He has been told by specialists that he will be completely blind within three years.
He said: 'It was really tough and when I finished I couldn't really understand where all my strength had come from.
'It took a couple of days for me to recover from the exhaustion of it all, but I am so glad I did it.
'The feeling when I got to the top was just incredible and I am so happy with how it went.'
At one point he almost threw in the towel after hearing a climber pal's girlfriend had been hit by a car.
He said: 'Spending so much time on my own, going through the motions over and over, had me making more mistakes than I would usually make because my guard was down.
'I fell twice on the climb and it was so hot out there, I became tired a lot quicker than I had accounted for.
'My eyesight hasn't been completely right for up to 10 years but I was only diagnosed two years ago,' he said.
'Now I have completely lost my peripheral vision, so it's like looking down a tunnel.
'I had to make a lot of changes to my lifestyle. For example, my driving licence got taken away and I couldn't go mountain biking anymore because it was too dangerous.
'But climbing is something I really love, so I hope I never have to give it up. I'm certainly going to make the most of it, while I still can.
'When I was diagnosed two years ago, I was told that I could expect to be completely blind within five years, so I wanted to do the climb before it was too late.'
Bike charity project manager Steve is the first blind person to conquer the granite monolith solo along the challenging 'Zodiac' route, in a bid to raise money for sight charity North East Sensory Services.
Inspirational Steve, who is married to Caroline, said: 'I'm not sure I will ever realise what I have done, being a climber it's just another great climb.
'I just hope it helps to inspire people, especially with disabilities, to believe that anything is possible if they set their minds to it. If I can do it, anyone can.'