At 8:30pm Alaskan time, on the 11th of June, all six members of the USAF 7 Summits Challenge stood triumphantly on the summit of North America!!!
I just got off the phone with the elated team. They are back in their tents at the 17,000ft camp with high winds buffeting their tents. Nearly continuous strong winds with blowing snow made reaching the summit a challenge, but they took a few breaks and made a press for the top when the weather was right. Other than the windy, cold weather, all went off without a hitch.
As the team climbed on, just a thousand feet from the summit, they were treated by a visit from the Air Force's F-22 Raptor. Mark Uberuaga said they all stopped and watched with pride, "as everyone on the mountain knew the Air Force had reached the top". He said that with a lot of emotion in his words, clearly moved by the moment and the gravity of this accomplishment. Our hats go off to the men and women of the 90th Fighter Squadron for the great show of Air Force support!
On the summit they were able to get pictures and videos, as well as enjoy the view. It didn't take nearly as long to descend back down to camp. They plan on staying on schedule (listed in a previous post) and should be to the base camp by the 14th and possibly flying out by the 15th. I don't expect to hear from them for the next day or two, as they focus on getting down the mountain safely.
So that's #4 out of 7!! We really only have two serious climbs left: Antarctica and Asia, as Australia's peak isn't very difficult and the logistics of that trip will be fairly simple. From here we'll be looking to build even more support for the 7 Summits Challenge, as we're going to need a lot of it from the Pentagon and some sponsorship from organizations to reach the rest of our peaks. I'm can't express how proud I am that this mountaineering challenge continues to gain steam thanks to the effort of our climbers and all of those who support them. What's especially impressive is the fact we have maintained a 100% success rate since this project started. That's practically unheard of with the number of climbers we have and the wide variety of experience. It's a great sign of Air Force member's fortitude, fitness, and drive.
Here's to our six climbers and all their hard work - Congratulations! Once again the Air Force prevails.
Climb High, Fly Low