The time has come for the next step in the USAF 7 Summits Challenge! ¬†Just two months after flying the US Air Force flag from the summit of Mt. Everest, our team of Airmen mountaineers are off to another peak. ¬†This time it’s not a huge mountain in a far-flung region of the globe. ¬†As part of our new plan to teach fellow Airmen the healing power of the mountains, we’re going to stick to accessible peaks in America. ¬†For our first climb, we’re headed to Mt. Rainier in Washington State.
The team starts their journey tomorrow, Friday July 19th. ¬†We have a total of 12 climbers. ¬†Six are active duty Airmen, one is a retired AF O-6, two were previous Airmen, and the rest are civilians that wanted to be part of this inaugural climb. ¬†Two of our active duty Airmen are wounded Combat Controllers- both sustained combat injuries during Special Operations missions in Afghanistan. ¬†We had several other Airmen that were dealing with physical and mental difficulties signed up, however they had to drop out for various reason- we’re looking forward to getting them on our next climb.
On Saturday morning, the team will climb up to Camp Muir (10,00ft)- the halfway mark of the Rainier climb. ¬†Maj Mark Uberuaga will lead the team and Maj Rob Marshall and Maj Graydon Muller will act as assistant guides. ¬†We’ll spend that afternoon and all of Sunday at Camp Muir teaching mountaineering skills such as self-arrest, rope travel, glacier awareness, rope rescue, and other important skills. ¬†It’ll also be a time to get to know each other, share stories of how the mountains have helped each of us cope with difficulties and get to know ourselves better.
Monday morning is summit day. ¬†The team will be up around midnight for an alpine start. ¬†Our goal is to reach the summit sometime between 7-9am. ¬†After we fly the Air Force and American flags from the top of Washington State, we’ll knock out some pushups to highlight the importance of physical fitness and to honor our fallen friends. ¬†After that, it’s a good hike back down to the base of the mountain and back to our lodging. ¬†Burgers and cold drinks will likely be the main items on the menu at this point.
Big thanks to International Mountain Guides for loaning the team essential equipment for the climb. ¬†To Aviator Gear, Kirtland Federal Credit Union, and Southwest AMBUCS - thank you for your generous support. ¬†Additionally, we’d like to thanks all the individuals that made donations to individual climbers- your funds will go to cover all the costs of our Airmen-in-need climbers in the climb and the next one! ¬†We’ve raised over $9,000 in the build up for this climb and the donations are continuing to come in. ¬†(Want to donate? ¬†Head to ClimbingForWarriors.com)
Follow updates from the Rainier ’13 team here (try the GPS Tracker)
and at ww.ClimbingForWarriors.com
Do you know anyone that would benefit from an event like this? ¬†Have them contact us! ¬†Or, if you think they could use a helping hand, let us know and we’ll give ‘em a call and encourage them to join us on our next trip. ¬†Maybe they don’t want to wait? ¬†Well, we have enough great Airmen out there that we can put them in touch with someone in their area to head into the outdoors with. ¬†Whether it’s mountaineering, fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking or kayaking, there’s always a way to get outside and get working on overcoming your problems through sweat, teamwork, and friendship.
–Climb High, Fly Low–
Maj Rob Marshall, USAF