5 Wounded Warriors. 4 Good Legs. 3 Wars. 2 Generations. 1 Mountain.
On June 10, 2012, a team of five wounded warriors will begin their challenge to summit Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska, at 20,320’ the highest mountain in North America and one of the coldest in the world. Team Warfighter Sports will test their limits, stamina and endurance while raising awareness of the abilities of our nation’s wounded warriors and inspire others with disabilities.
The Denali Challenge will begin shortly after Memorial Day to honor the sacrifices of America’s heroes and end around Independence Day, a day that celebrates the freedoms won by military service members.Team Warfighter Sports includes two double leg amputees, two single above knee amputees and one wounded warrior with severe muscle damage in the legs. The team includes warriors from two generations (the oldest is 64 and youngest is 29) and three wars, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cheer on their commitment by pledging your support! Funds raised will ensure that sports rehabilitation programs for wounded warriors continue to be offered free of cost through DSUSA's Warfighter Sports!
Itinerary and Progress Updates- West Buttress Route
Sunday, June 10: Final equipment check in Anchorage and team interview with CNN! http://bit.ly/KtbLnC
Day 1. Monday, June 11: Team is packed and ready! On a bus from Anchorage to Taalketna. Then flying to base camp in Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200'.
Day 2. Tuesday, June 12: Team is well and in good spirits! The day started at 4am. They experienced snow, rain, and wind. They are now camping at the east Fork of Kahlitna Glacier at 7,800'.
Day 3. Wednesday, June 13: Team is making great progress! Despite cold weather and leg abrasions from prostheses, the team made it to camp around 8,500'.
Day 4. Thursday, June 14: It was the toughest climbing day yet for the team! Experienced difficulty with prostheses, blistering and intense sun and spectacular scenery. Team is camping tonight at 9,600'.
Day 5. Friday, June 15: After another very tough 5.5 hour day of climbing, especially in their prostheses, the team successfully made it to camp at 11,200'. They experienced all sorts of weather including an intense sun, clouds and snow. They will be getting some much needed rest tomorrow!
Day 6. Saturday, June 16: Team is well and taking a rest day at 11200'. They missed the avalanche that effected other teams. Thoughts & prayers to the Miyagi Workers Alpine Fed. Expedition.
Day 7. Sunday, June 17: Team remained at 11,200' after waking up at to a glacier surge and snow storm with high winds. They spent their early morning digging out their tents and resting. The team hopes that on Monday they will be able to climb to 12,500'. They also wanted to wish all the fathers a Happy Father's Day!
Day 8. Monday, June 18: Team remained at 11,200' again to ensure their safety after 18+ inches of fresh snow and 70mph wind gusts at +/- 0 temperatures. They are practicing rope techniques and enjoying a sunny day!
Day 9. Tuesday, June 19: In a very cloudy day, the team climbed very steep hills and passed through many snow bridges to get through deep crevases. They are camping at 13,000' (Polo Fields near Windy Corner).
Day 10. Wednesday, June 20: Team reached the camp at 14,000. They are all tired but in good spirits. The team will be there for at least 3 days resting, acclimatizing and training for the upper slopes, which will be steeper, icier, windier and colder.
Day 11. Thursday, June 21: Team rested and acclimatized at 14,000'.
Day 12. Friday, June 22: After 11.5 hours of ascending and descending skills training from 14,00'0 to 16,200', the team camped again at 14,000. They are getting ready for steeper, icier, windier and colder upper slopes. They are exhausted and ready to rest.
Day 13. Saturday, June 23: Team Warfighter Sports rested after a hard and long day of traning on Friday. They are in good spirits and looking forward to climbing to 15,600 camp. Jesse and Kirk used the satellite phone (thank you Iridium!) to call at 2:30am EST to check-in with CBS This Morning! Listen to the interview here.
Day 14. Sunday, June 24: Due to severe weather including 50mph winds and snow storms in the upper elevations the team remained at 14,000' camp. They are anxious to start climbing again!
Day 15. Monday, June 25: The team again remained at 14,000' due to severe weather. Listen to the the new audio from today to get an idea of the team's diet on the mountain!
Day 16 & 17. Tuesday & Wednesday, June 26 & 27: Team is well, but weather isn’t cooperating. Still camping at 14,000 with other teams & hoping to catch a break with the severe weather in the higher elevations! Team is running low on food and permit days.
Day 18. Thursday, June 28: Today was the last day will attempt to reach the higher elevations. The team climbed to 15,500' before having to turn around back to camp 14,000' due to severe weather, including an avalanche in higher elevations. This marked the end of their attempt to summit Mt. McKinley. Team was gave it their all, but the weather conditions were out of their control.
Day 19 to Day 21. June 29- July 1: Team descended Mt. McKinley and flew to Taalketna.
July 2: Team returned home!
Facts about Denali
- 20,320 feet – highest in North America
- One of the coldest mountains on earth
- Temperatures reaching as low as 40o F below zero. Click here to check the current weather in Denali!
- Wind speeds on the upper mountain can reach over 150mph
- Glaciers, separated by razor edge ridges and massive granite rock
Facts about Team Warfighter Sports
- Seeking to reignite their competitive, athletic spirit that military service members possess and motivate those recently injured as to what is possible
- Includes severely wounded from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam
- Disabilities sustained in war include single and multiple leg amputees, nerve and bone damage, traumatic brain injury
- 6 months of intensive training, including mountains in Colorado and Bataan Memorial Death March, a 26.2 mile, one day hike in the desert of southern New Mexico
- Mountain Trip, an experienced guide group, will lead the challenge
Team Warfighter Sports Members
- Army Capt. Jesse Acosta (Ret.) Severely wounded by an IED in Iraq. Permanent damage to his hip, leg, back and arm. Scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011 and twice completed a 100-mile bicycle ride and the Capital of Texas Triathlon. West Point graduate currently working on Wall Street.
- Army Sgt. Kirk M. Bauer, JD (Ret.) As disabled Vietnam veteran (left above knee amputee) and the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for the past 29 years, at age 64, Bauer still leads an active sports life participating with wounded warriors, youth and others in skiing, biking, hiking, golf and other sports. In 2010, he led a team of all amputee veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on a successful summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
- Marine Capt. David Borden (Active Duty) After losing his leg above the knee to a suicide bomb in Iraq in 2008, Captain Borden returned to combat in Afghanistan in 2011. Borden has golfed, skied and run the Army Ten Miler through Disabled Sports USA's military program.
- Army Sgt. Neil Duncan (Ret.) Severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2005 by an improvised explosive device resulting in amputation of both legs. Scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010 alongside Kirk Bauer and continues to stay active in sports.
- Army Cpl. Steve Martin (Ret.)Served in the Army and Army National Guard for 8 years including assignment in Korea. Hit by an IED while on operations as a State Department contractor, with Joint US Forces Provincial Mentoring Team in Afghanistan. Martin lost both legs below the knees as a result of his injuries. After his amputations, he completed the Bataan Memorial Death March in 2011, a 26 mile marchin White Sands, NM. Steve golfs, bikes, swims and runs and has competed in triathlons.
A huge thank you to our generous sponsors for making this climb possible!
The Denali Challenge and Team Warfighter Sports has been featured on different media sources. Here are some of the links to the interviews and articles:
June 10, 2012: CNN News Room
June 9, 2012: CBS This Morning
June 22, 2012: AP Press First Report
June 23, 2012: CBS This Morning Progress Update
July 4, 2012: AP Press Follow Up Report
About Warfighter Sports
Warfighter Sports, a program of Disabled Sports USA, offers sports rehabilitation for severely wounded warriors in military hospitals and communities across the U.S. through a nationwide network of over 100 community-based chapters. Since 1967, Disabled Sports USA has proudly served wounded warriors, including those injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, offering over 30 winter and summer sports at more than 100 events each year. Warfighter Sports rebuildslives through sports by improving self-confidence, promoting independence and uniting families through shared healthy activities.
Contributions cover all expenses for participation, including individualized adaptive instruction, adaptive sports equipment, transportation, lodging and meals for the warrior and a family member. Since 2003, more than 5,600 of the most severely wounded and their families have been served, including those with amputations, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, visual impairments, and significant nerve and muscle damage. For more information, visit www.warfightersports.org.
3 easy ways to ledge your support!
- Or if you would like to pledge your support via mail, here is our address:
Disabled Sports USA
451 Hungerford Drive, Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850
Memo: Warfighter Sports Denali Challenge