Veterans Expeditions

News

9/11 Climbing Trip 2 From Glacier Peak to Mount St. Helens WA

Glacier group w peak

The 3 Amigos. Army, Marines, Air Force Veterans getting after it!

 

Sometimes you get to go places on expedition and words cannot describe how amazing everything is.  The pictures from our time traveling and climbing in Washington this September 11th say a thousand words.  These volcanoes, trails, rocks, and forests were such an honor to spend quality time in and around.  Glaciers, waterfalls, and mountains were everywhere.  

 

Look left and see VetEx Co-Founder taking in the magnitude of this vast landscape with Glacier Peak looming in the distance.

Look left and see VetEx Co-Founder Nick Watson taking in the magnitude of this vast landscape with Glacier Peak looming in the distance.

From the lush forests of the North Cascade to the moonscape of Mount St. Helens.  We traveled, hiked, and climbed this land with our eyes wide open and smiles upon our faces.  Three veterans and one non-veteran traveling around and enjoying every second.  We hiked and climbed long, hard days and took none of it for granted.  Army, Air Force, and Marine veterans all exploring this new world together as a team.  If this sounds like fun to you, get on the next trip with VetEx.  See you all outside very soon.

St. Helens summit flag

The summit of Mount St. Helens on 9/11/13

St. Helens showing off Keens

We couldn’t do it with out the Keens on our feet.

 

9/11 Climbing to Mt. Olympus with SCMO and VetEx

CLIMBING TO OLYMPUS

Originally posted here http://sierraclub.typepad.com/planet/2013/09/climbing-to-olympus.html

Climbing-to-Olympus

Dan, Derek and Joshua on the summit of Mt. Olympus.

By Joshua Brandon, Sierra Club Military Outdoors Organizer

We climb for many reasons. We climb to challenge ourselves and we climb for spiritual fulfillment. We climb to mark the anniversaries of our victories as well as the tragedies. Last week, our team of veterans climbed for their own personal reasons in remembrance of the events of September 11th, 2001.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Dan after his first alpine lead.

Many in our community lost friends and family in the events of that day, but far more of us mark that day as the turning point in which our lives were forever changed in the ensuing conflict of the following twelve years. Regardless of various motivations, our team marks the event by challenging ourselves in the wilderness.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Crossing the gap.

From September 7th to the 12th, I joined veteran climbers Dan Wiwczar and Derek Quintanilla in a traverse of Mount Olympus and the Ridge of the Gods in the wilderness of Washington State for the annual 911 climb.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Supper below the Blue Glacier.

Over the course of five and a half days, we walked and climbed 48 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation change on five peaks and two glaciers. We traveled through one of the largest temperate rain forests on the planet, steep sub alpine hills, and glaciated alpine vistas encompassing some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Ridge of the Gods, with objectives Athena and Athens Owl to the right.

I was proud of my team as they faced every challenge the mountain threw at us. Long distances, dangerous crevasse travel, fluctuating temperatures, and exposed climbs on rotten rock only seemed to make them stronger as the trip ground on.

 

Climbing-to-Olympus

Parting shot of Mt. Olympus rising above the Blue Glacier.

Dan was given no quarter on his first major glacier climb, and both he and Derek rose to the challenge in completing their first alpine rock lead climbs. The tougher the conditions, the bigger their smiles, the more dangerous the route, the louder they laughed. I’ve always been lucky to have veterans like these at my side in the wilderness.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Joshua picking a line.

Over the course of the climb I was left with the following thought: Each one of us turned to the mountains to find our way when we left the ranks, and each one of us continues to lead their fellow veterans to help them find their way after the war. Like the generations of veterans who have come before us, we have returned to the lands we once defended to heal.

Climbing-to-Olympus

On the approach.

While the lands we fought for will forever be intertwined with our lives, their importance to us is far greater than our individual purposes. These lands symbolize the very heart and soul of our nation, and our warriors are once more needed to defend them.

Climbing-to-Olympus

David Brower High Camp below Olympus.

Our wildest places define America itself, and it is in these wildest places that we will define our legacy for generations to come. We spilled our blood on foreign soil to preserve them, and now we must once again lead our countrymen in fighting to protect them. Go into wilderness to find your way, fall in love with the lands you defended, and lead our country in defending them a second time.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Derek and Dan on Athena’s Owl.

I’d like to personally thank Dan Wiwczar and Derek Quintanilla, above, for an amazing climb. I can’t say enough about your great display of character in tough situations. I’d also like to thank Sierra Club Outdoors, Veterans Expeditions, and Suunto for their generous sponsorship of this climb.

Climbing-to-Olympus

Joshua on lead.

All photos are by and with permission of Dan Wiwczar (Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Outside Adventure Film School graduate).

VetEx Charter Boat Fishing Newburyport MA 8/17/13

NH MA Fish group

Our group after a day of fishing

On August 17th VetEx went charter boat fishing out of Newburyport Massachusetts.  VetEx Co-Founder Nick Watson grew up just 15 minutes down the road.  Nick’s Vietnam veteran father was present as was his brother.  Veterans from all over New England showed up to go fishing with VetEx.  The weather cooperated and provided calm seas and sunny skies for the 20 mile plus journey offshore.  

Ma NWBRYPT harbour

The North side of Newburyport harbor. 

It was one of those great days at sea.  The winds were light and the fishing was great.  Pollock, Cod, and Flounder were the fish species caught on the day.  Lots of fish were caught and of course the big ones got away.  

 

Ma Dan and Mike fish

Army veterans who served together in Afghanistan, fish together with VetEx

Veterans of all abilities were present.  The fishing was good.  Spirits were high and many a story was told of service and sacrifice.  Each veteran took their catch home and talked of doing it all again soon.

 

Brad flag stern

Army veteran holds the flag he flew in Afghanistan off the stern.

Thank you to Brian Herr  and his family for his generosity that made this trip possible.  Big thanks to Rich Brewer and One Warrior Won for all the help on this great week that saw veterans get out in the New Hampshire mountains as well as off shore fishing.

 

 

 

 

 

VetEx East Presidential Traverse New Hampshire 10/15/13

On August 15th a team of VetEx veterans set off to tackle the 5 peaks of the Northern Presidential Range.  In all, 15 Miles and 8000 feet elevation gained climbing Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Clay, and Mt. Washington.  

NH Pres. traverse walkNH Pres. traverse summit 2NH Pres. traverse summit 3NH Pres. traverse summitNH Wash summit 13NH Hitchhike

We started early and had a spectacular weather day.  Conversations were had about future trips and what was coming up for everyone.  One veteran was busy working and getting through college, another was starting up a guiding company, one vet was not a vet at all, but still on active duty, another was working hard at getting other veterans outside.  We walked and we walked. Lots of conversations were had about the fun times had in uniform and some other conversations about the tough times had by all members of our group.  What a day.  It was like a retreat and an ass kicking all wrapped up into one long day spent outside with your piers.  If you have never experienced such a day out with veterans, then you may want to join us next time.

So why do we do it some might ask?  The reply is up to the veteran.  For VetEx, we see the value in veterans accomplishing their outdoor goals together.  Magic happens on these trips.  Vets get to experience what they miss about the military and then take it all back home with them.  The long days replicate the types of effort needed to summit big mountains around the world and provide good training opportunities for future expeditions.  Many of our veterans enjoy and work well in this type of outdoor environment.  Come get out with us and see for yourself.

Recent Press and Media

Veterans-Expeditions-Logo-01

Mission Outdoors Josh Brandon on September 11th, why veterans climb, the power of vet led trips

http://sierraclub.typepad.com/planet/2013/09/climbing-to-olympus.html

VetEx Co-Founders speak candidly with Dirtbag Diaries August 2013

http://dirtbagdiaries.com/home-front

Wild River Fish’s Mark Rutherford on VetEx Alaska Expedition July 2013

http://www.wildriverfish.com/reports/disabled-army-vets-on-the-togiak-river/

Film Maker Magazine Article on the Veteran Outside Adventure Film School June 2013

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=382615b860&view=att&th=141fabcb4a736e41&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8JnwdF9mfyFZZfaZcLwiKy&sadet=1383077595118&sads=0vvBxFeBN2Y-iqPy47UK7X45GMg&sadssc=1

Conrad Anker on Veterans and Climbing

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/15/conrad-anker-on-how-war-veterans-and-climbers-share-similar-values/

National Geographic Adventure Article on VetEx Montana Ice Climbing Week March 2013

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/04/veterans-tackle-hyalite-canyon-and-life-after-war/#comment-114436

Climbing Magazine Veterans Day Issue November 2012

http://www.climbing.com/climber/invisible-wounds/

Boston Globe Article on 9/11/12 VetEx Mt. Washington Climb

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=382615b860&view=att&th=141faac765249488&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8JnwdF9mfyFZZfaZcLwiKy&sadet=1383077632113&sads=fQrWUe07-lNqYcfQYBnzk8x62DI&sadssc=1

Listen to the VetEx Co Founders on The Dirtbag Diaries

 

VetEx Co-Founders Nick Watson and Stacy Bare

VetEx Co-Founders Nick Watson and Stacy Bare

There’s a story that you may have heard kicked around in the newspapers and nightly news for the last few months. It’s as unsettling as it is tragic. The rate of suicide among active military personnel, reservists, and veterans has increased to nearly 22 suicides a day. 22 every day, even as more resources are being allocated to prevent it–and finding a solution is likely as complicated as understanding why. 

Veterans Stacy Bare and Nick Watson know the struggles that service members face as they readjust to civilian life. Addiction. Depression. An overwhelming feeling of being out of place. But over time, both found a place in the outdoors and the surrounding community to recreate what they missed from the military, and to feel like they had really come home. And they didn’t stop there–they became determined to find a way to make that transition easier for other veterans too. Today, we bring you their stories and the story of how these two veteran’s are creating a community for other veterans on the home front.

This episode does contain graphic descriptions of violence and adult language. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Previously posted on the Dirtbag Diaries website:  http://dirtbagdiaries.com/home-front


emailVisit us on FacebookVisit us on TwitterVisit us on GooglePlusVisit us on YouTubevimeoCheck our RSS Feed