Guest Blogger: Dave Warden, Tillman Military Scholar Class 3, University of South Florida
Recently, I joined a team of combat-wounded veterans whose sole mission is to improve the quality of our own lives through high-adventure outdoor challenges and to further medical science in relation to our injuries. Over the past several weeks, my team consisting of four wounded warriors (two of which are amputees), three guides from the Alaskan Mountaineering School, a physical therapist specializing in prosthetic research from the University of South Florida and two board members of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge organization began the initial training to conquer the “7 Summit Challenge.”
The “7 Summit Challenge” is an ambitious undertaking whose participants seek to climb the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents:
1) Denali/McKinley (North America) – 20,320 feet
2) Aconcagua (South America) – 22,841 feet
3) Kilimanjaro (Africa) – 19,340 feet
4) Vinson Massif (Antarctica) – 16,050 feet
5) Carstensz Pyramid (Australia/Oceania) – 16,024 feet
6) Elbrus (Europe) – 18,510 feet
7) Everest (Asia) – 29,029 feet
In addition to a rigorous physical training plan, my team and I spent several of the past weeks training on Alaska’s glaciers/mountains. We focused our training on safe glacier travel, ice/rock climbing, crevasse rescue techniques, utilizing fixed lines for ascending and descending technical sections, belaying/repelling and rope/knot techniques. It also gave us, as wounded warriors, the ability to see how we can utilize and adapt certain techniques to overcome the complications associated with our injuries.
The next step for us will be attempting to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in January of 2013 and then Denali/Mt. McKinley in the summer of 2013. I will be sure to keep everyone posted as to how our training is progressing.