Category Archives: News

The VetEx Experience at Winter Outdoor Retailer 2014

OR VetEx Pints
Our Pint Glass Sale at KEEN Happy Hour. VetEx logo looking good.

This winter a team of  VetEx veterans went to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.  We went with big plans of new partnerships and quality time with long time partners.  Keen set us up in their booth Wednesday through Friday of the show.  We interacted with Keen staff, Keen customers, and show goers all day long in the booth.  Things started to heat up for pint sales and happy hour.  Keen donated all of the proceeds to VetEx.  Thanks for the continued support Keen.

OR Keen Booth

Keen and VetEx at the 2014 Winter OR Show
Keen and VetEx at the 2014 Winter OR Show

VetEx veterans had the pleasure of hanging out and talking with Wade Davis after his talk at the Conservation Alliance Breakfast.  Wade is the author of Into the Silence, a spectacular book on World War I and the military veteran climbers who took on Everest, Mallory included.  This book is a must read for the veteran climber.  Mr. Davis writes of war in such detail and accuracy.  The reader can defiantly draw comparisons to then and now.  Those veteran climbers paved the way for VetEx today. Many of those WW I vets were unemployed and looking for peace and a future in the outdoors.

OR Wade Davis talks to the men
VetEx Leadership gets some wise words from a very wise man. Thanks for the time Wade Davis. A class act and avid supporter of veterans.
OR Guys with Wade Davis
From left to right: Dan Wiwczar VetEx East Program Director, Josh Brandon heads up SCMO, Wade Davis, Stacy Bare Sierra Club Outings Director, Nick Watson VetEx Executive Director.

Wade talked with our group about his book, Into the Silence, and his current effort to save his homeland in The Sacred Headwaters.  A story of the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass in Northern British Columbia.  The knowledge, subject matter, and passion Mr. Davis has on these subjects is impressive.  I have never spoken with a better speaker and story teller.  We will make sure that VetEx vets will have opportunities in the future to speak with this amazing man and all he has to teach and tell us.

OR VetEx Sally Jewel
The VetEx Leadership with Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. Sally heads up the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, BLM, and much more.

The VetEx leadership team had the chance to speak with Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell.  It was great to speak with Sally about all her job entails.  Fascinating woman working hard in service to this countries wild places and open spaces.

Or HardWear Lunch

We attended the Mountain Hard Wear lunch and got updated on all the new designs and specifics for their new line.

OR Kahtoola

We wrapped up the show at the Kahtoola booth.  Kahtoola was our first sponsor in 2010 when most folks would not give us the time of day, Kahtoola wanted to make sure our veterans were in their snowshoes and microspikes.  We will always be loyal supporters of Kahtoola as they have been very loyal to VetEx.Adventures of the Year Party SLC

We attended the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year party on Thursday where Stacy Bare and Nick Watson (VetEx Co-Founders) were presented with the 2014 Adventurers of the Year honor.  Thanks National Geographic for recognizing our veteran run, veteran led trips and expeditions nation wide.

It was a great show for VetEx as we got to meet so many new faces and hang out with old partners to talk about future trips and the future of veterans outside. Thank you once again Keen, Kahtoola, and National Geographic for making our show so eventful. 

 

2014 VetEx Trip and Expedition Schedule

In 2013 VetEx ran over 30 trips across the United States getting hundreds of military veterans outside and earning the honor of 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. In 2014, our schedule is going to be even bigger as we hike, paddle, fish, climb, mountaineer, and mountain bike across the nation as our VetEx Teams truly experience the “Land Defended”. In 2015 we plan to send a team of VetEx veterans on a summit attempt of Denali, the highest peak in North America. In 2016 our goal is to put a VetEx team on the tallest mountain that can be climbed. Get out with VetEx in 2014 and experience veteran run, veteran led trips and expeditions.

Vet Day walk 2

1. January 4-5 Ice Climbing Ouray Ice Park CO with VET

2. January 21-25 Outdoor Retailer Salt Lake Utah

3.  February 1-2 Ice Climbing Ouray Ice Park CO

4.  February 6-7 10th Mtn Hut Community Service Ski or Snowshoe Overnight Leadville CO

5.  February 10-11 10th Mtn Hut Community Service Ski or Snowshoe Overnight Leadville CO

6.  February 15-16 VetEx East Ice Climbing Weekend North Conway NH

7.  March 3-7 VetEx SCMO Montana Ice Week

8.  March 13-14 10th Mtn Hut Community Service Ski or Snowshoe Overnight Leadville CO

9.  March 24-25 10th Mtn Hut Community Service Ski or Snowshoe Overnight Leadville CO

10.  Many more 10th Mtn Hut Community Service Ski or Snowshoe winter trips and summer work trips as well

11. March Ice Climbing Ouray CO Trip TBA

12. May 24-25 Memorial Day Weekend Local Rock Climbing meet-ups in CO, WA, NY.

13. June 2nd annual Browns Canyon Float and Climb Salida Co 3 days 15 vets TBA

14  June Colorado Climbing Week TBA

15. July Mountain School WA TBA

16. July 9-16 Alaska Program (Trip is Full)

17-19. July/August  Pacific Northwest Volcano Climbs as Special Events

Mt. Hood OR

Mt. Rainier WA

Mt. Shasta CA

20. July 2nd annual Veteran Outside Adventure Film School WA TBA

21. August VetEx East hiking, climbing, and fishing week NH and MA TBA

22. September 4-14 9/11 5th Annual 9/11 Climbing Series. The Pickets Traverse Climb ending on Glacier Peak North Cascades WA

23. 4th annual Veterans Day Climb Joshua Tree CA

24. Mountain Bike Team to run 3 or more race in 2014 April-September CO, AZ, UT

*More trips will be added and trip dates updated as the information is available so check back regularly

Please email nick@vetexpeditions.com for more information or to reserve your slot for any of these trips.  All military veterans are eligible.  DD214 and filled out applications required.  You can mail applications and DD214’s to the address below or email to nick@vetexpeditions.com.  Please note that this schedule will be updated on a regular basis as trip dates confirm and current conditions become known.  In general, all trips are at no cost to military veterans except for travel to and from a given trip and in some cases a reserve your slot fee.  Our larger trips and expeditions may require that you have been out with VetEx prior to attending these more expensive expeditions.  Reserve your slot today as many of these trips will fill-up.

Veterans Expeditions Application Form

Nick Watson

Veterans Expeditions

1031 E  St.

Salida, CO 81201

Vet group catwalk Ouray ice
Photo credit to Eric Schuette via Chad Jukes

 

VetEx Co-Founders are 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year

Vote for Nick Watson and Stacy Bare (VetEx Co-Founders) for the Peoples Choice Award

http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2014/vote/

Nat-Geo-Nick-and-Stacy-Mt-Ice
Nick and Stacy at Montana Veteran Ice Climbing Week March 2013.

Nick and Stacy have been awarded 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for their work at Veterans Expeditions.

http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2014/stacy-bare-nick-watson/

Bare_Watson_summit
Nick and Stacy on the summit of Mt. Rainier.

 

 

Veterans Day VetEx style “Not your Average Veterans Day Parade” Colorado and New York

Vet Day Summit 13
The summit of Mt. Elbert CO. The highest mountain in Colorado, 2nd highest in the lower 48 states. Veterans from the Army and Marines as well as Active Duty Airforce.

 

This Veterans Day we ran two trips, one in Colorado, and one in New York.  The Colorado group climbed Mt. Elbert, the highest mountain in the state at 14, 433 feet or so.  The New York group climbed rock for two days in the Gunks.  The veterans and active duty military that showed up and climbed with us this Veterans Day was dynamic and diverse. 

Not your average Veterans Day Parade

Not your average Veterans Day Parade Colorado

Vet Day walk 2

 

We had first timers and outdoor professionals.  Male and Female veterans showed up to be contributing members of the larger VetEx team.  The time spent out with all these veterans and all these service stories was nothing short of awesome.  Veterans let their guards down with one another and out came the stories of war and civilian life struggles and success.

 

VetEx East 2 days of rock climbing in the Gunks group.
VetEx East 2 days of rock climbing in the Gunks group.

Thank you to all those who have served.  These trips are for you!  

Gunks Rock Turner VetEx
Major John Turner tearing up some rock.

 

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