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Four Combat-Wounded Veterans Set Out to Defy "The High One"

Right now we are camped at 14,200 feet. We are taking a full rest day today to prepare for our move up to high camp. Yesterday, we carried five days’ worth of food and supplies up to an altitude of 16,200 feet.

To get up there, we had to go up an area called the “head wall” using fixed lines over blue ice, which was a challenge for our climbers because it requires tacking ascenders over and onto fixed ropes – an especially difficult task for our arm amputee, John. He did awesome at it. Matt, the leg amputee, flew up it like there was nothing holding him back. So overall, it was a big day because we did a lot of altitude, but we did very well heading up. Coming down is pretty precarious and it took us a little bit. But we had a good long, successful day. We are still ahead of schedule - we are positioned with everything we need at high camp.

Today, we’ll configure all our gear, rest and heal up, and eat and drink a lot to prepare to head up. If the weather holds out, we are very well situated so that we can get up to high camp tomorrow, which is another 3,200-feet elevation gain.

This will be a very long push -- possibly taking 10 hours to get there. But once we get there, we will take possibly a rest day the next day, if necessary. Or we’ll just move back, grab what we have at 16,200 feet and then, based upon that, the next day would be an opportunity for a summit day.

So, if the weather holds out, we have the possibility by the 13th to make an attempt on the summit. So we are praying for the weather and our bodies to hold out for us. We continue to acclimate. The altitude is definitely having a significant impact on us. Every pound is equal to two – at least – so everything weighs a lot more. So we move very, very slowly especially when climbing with a heavy load. That’s probably our biggest intimidation for tomorrow – it’ll be a pretty big pack and a pretty big day at a very high altitude.

And when we go for that summit day, that’ll be a 3,100 feet elevation gain; that ranges from another 10 to 20 hours depending on how the weather treats us. But the team is strong, everyone is healthy. We’ve figured out several modifications to gear to support our amputees’ needs and we’re dealing with the minor challenges that are common at altitude – the dry air and lack of oxygen. But we’re doing well.