THESE spectacular images show blind climber Steve Bate scaling the 3,000ft high rockface known as Zodiac on El Capitan, in California’s Yosemite Valley.
He is the first registered blind person to complete a solo climb one of El Capitan’s most dangerous routes – which is also considered to be one of the most dangerous climbs in the world.
The 35-year-old, from Elgin, in Moray, was diagnosed with a degenerative illness called retinitis pigmentosa two years ago, although he had been struggling with his vision for some time before that.
He said: “My eyesight hasn’t been completely right for up to ten years, but I was only diagnosed two years ago. Now I have completely lost my peripheral vision, so it’s like looking down a tunnel.”
Mr Bate said he had pulled out all the stops to make the epic climb, which took six days to complete. “It was really tough and when I finished I couldn’t really understand where all my strength had come from,” he said.
“The feeling when I got to the top was just incredible and I am so happy with how it went.”
The bike charity manager, who has been told he will be completely blind in five years, said he was determined to conquer Zodiac while he still had some vision.
He said: “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, 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.”