Reaching the Summit of Mt. Bierstadt in a Wheelchair
“I’ve learned that the best things in life are accomplished through teamwork.”Nerissa Cannon
On Sunday, September 16th, Nerissa Cannon summited her first Colorado 14er. Nerissa is in a wheelchair and cannot use her legs, but that wasn’t going to stop her. For 7 brutal miles, Nerissa found a path forward, over rocks, through loose dirt and willows, to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt.
Twenty-seven people from different parts of Colorado rallied together, many of whom Nerissa had never met before that day, to help her reach the top.
Nerissa recently attended What’s Your Everest, an adaptive climbing event and fundraiser for No Barriers. It proved to be strong motivation to continue on a path of living with purpose, and of course, climbing.
Connor Koch, who completed his own No Barriers pledge to summit all of the 14ers in Colorado, was on hand to join Nerissa’s rope team. He described the sense of community and support as an emotional experience:
“I’m failing to find the right words. I’m grateful and honored. Special recognition goes to Braden Wahr. When the summit ridge became too steep and treacherous for the wheelchair, Braden carried Nerissa on his back, at 14,000 feet, up loose rock, to help her complete the journey to the summit. I’ve never seen anything so powerful.”
For Nerissa, this accomplishment is only the beginning. Her goal is to “roll” across the United States next summer. Starting on the west coast and following Route 66 to Chicago and then on to Boston, she would be the first woman to cross the country in a wheelchair.
“ My purpose in the cross country roll is to show what I can do because of my wheelchair. Without my wheelchair, the majority of my life would not be possible. I want to start changing the conversation from ‘wheelchairs are limiting’ to ‘wheelchairs enable’ and ‘wheelchairs are empowering.'”
Via CBS4 of Denver