Good Morning Everyone!  It's shaping up to be a beautiful day here at the base of Mt. Rainier.  The sun is hidden behind clouds, which is keeping the morning cool and fresh. We imagine the sun will burn it off, but if not, that'd be fine- as otherwise it's going to be a hot day on the snow.  The team is meeting at the Whittaker Bunkhouse now and will be headed to Paradise (starting point for the climb) at 0800.

Last night 11 of the 12 climbers met at a small cabin in Ashford.  We got to know each other, ate burgers, and shared a lot about ourselves. Team leader Mark Uberuaga spelled out his plan for the climb and talked a lot about risk management and how we all have an important part in it- from the most experienced climbers all the way through the most novice.  Then we did a gear check- looking at each climber's equipment and clothing to ensure they meet requirements- warm enough, light enough, waterproof, properly sized, etc.  It was easy- this group of climbers is motivated and squared away!

Maj Uberuaga, Marshall, and Muller stayed up with a few other folks until real late packing up food, taping lids shut, bagging hot chocolate, and all the basic steps for getting team food ready.  The morning came a little to quickly, but with a little coffee, we're all ready.  Speaking of that, time for me to head for some coffee and the gear rental store.

We will try to keep you all updated, but unsure as to how we'll be able to do that.  In the mean time, the GPS tracker will become active, so feel free to follow along athttp://www.t-sciences.com/.  If the link in the upper right corner isn't working at the moment, it will be soon!

Thanks for your support as always.  GO AIR FORCE!

--Maj Marshall

 
 
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 GearKirtland 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?  Click "Support Us" above)

Follow our progress via GPS tracker at: www.USAF7Summits.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