VetEx climbed and trained all summer long in the Colorado high country. VetEx Climbing Teams stood on the summits of Longs Peak, Mt. Meeker, Crestone Needle, Humboldt Peak, Mt. Shavano, Tabeguache Peak, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Yale, Mt. Belford, Missouri Mountain, and Huron Peak. Our veteran teams trained in mountaineering and mountain travel techniques.
Longs Peak was one of the more memorable climbs of the summer. It stands out because of the reasons why two of our vets wanted to climb this mountain so terribly bad. Marine veteran Livio Ciciotti had just received a call that far too many veterans receive, one of his buddies had just taken his own life.
Livio reached out to his veteran community at VetEx and what came about was some very hard and heartfelt discussions on suicide. Turns out many of the veterans Livio climbs with at VetEx have had experience with veteran suicide and their willingness to talk and add their support reminded us all of why VetEx started in the first place. It is to build veteran community through the outdoors and carry through to day to day life.
So we climbed Longs Peak for Kevin Oboyle. Livio knew that Kevin had wanted to climb Longs Peak and it was his mission to pay tribute to him at the summit. VetEx Co-founder Nick Watson wore a Boston Red Sox hat to honor Kevin’s favorite ball club and Nick’s as well.
Navy veteran Dana Niemela showed up for the Longs Peak climb with a mission as well. Dana is a Colorado resident, a VetEx regular, and lives in Denver. She has been staring at Longs Peak for many years. She wanted to climb the mountain in her daily horizon and knew this was the crew to climb with.
We had a spectacular day on Longs as we paid tribute to our fallen friend. We climbed with ease as we remembered that many in our community are suffering. We climbed because it made us feel good about not taking this day for granted. We climbed to inspire others to join us. We will leave you with shots from other climbs across the beautiful state of Colorado.