Events/Press Releases

Disabled Soldiers Embark on Courageous, Barrier-Breaking Himalayan Climb

Eleven injured warriors join Colorado climber Erik Weihenmayer in 20,000-foot climb marking the tenth anniversary of his successful summitting of Mount Everest – the first blind person to do so.

LOS ANGELES, CA, September 30, 2010 – Eleven combat veterans who have suffered injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan will depart from Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, October 1 for a three-week expedition in Nepal, including an attempt to summit the 20,075 foot peak of Lobuche East, located just 8.7 miles from Mount Everest in the Himalayas. World T.E.A.M. Sports has organized the expedition, known as “Soldiers to the Summit,” to demonstrate that people with disabilities can overcome any challenge. Erik Weihenmayer, who is celebrating the tenth anniversary of becoming the only blind person to ever summit Mount Everest, will lead the team. Supporting the warriors in their effort are many of the same team of climbers that helped Weihenmayer reach Everest’s summit a decade ago.

Comprised of three women and eight men, the warriors represent all four branches of the military. Their sacrifices represent the ongoing service of all the men and women of the armed services who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation and our freedoms. Their injuries range from the loss of sight to limb amputees to traumatic brain injuries. Not to be deterred by their injuries, these eleven people are undertaking a challenge that even the most fit, able-bodied individuals would find daunting. This climb is all about shattering barriers and misconceptions.

“Activities like the Himalayan Expedition prove that exceptional athletes do matter and that people of all abilities can do even the most difficult tasks, not just in sports but in all walks of life,” said Jeff Messner, President of World T.E.A.M. Sports. “By bringing together disabled and able-bodied athletes in difficult challenges that require teamwork and rely on an understanding of one another’s competence, we hope to educate all people about the capabilities of those with a physical or mental injury.”

This extraordinary challenge includes seven days of trekking through the spectacular Khumbu region to a Base Camp at 16,269 feet. After a day of rest, the team will then climb slabby terraces and snow slopes beneath the main glaciers of the South-West Face of Lobuche East. At the point where the glacier face and ridge meet, they will establish a high camp at 18,305 feet. On the 13th day of this difficult trek, the team will then attempt to summit the 20,075-foot peak of Lobuche East. This is a technical rock, snow, and ice climb of great difficulty. Following this leg, the team will spend up to six days descending the mountains and returning to Kathmandu. For information about the expedition, the participating veterans and support team, as well as to follow the expedition with daily updates, visit the official expedition site.

During their training for the expedition in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado this August, former President George W. Bush spoke with eight of the warriors offering encouragement. In addition, the former President shared memories with Weihenmayer and members of the Everest team, who he had hosted in the White House after their historic climb in 2001. President Bush said he would follow the team’s climb on the web, and he asked them to call with a report as soon as they are back home.

“This expedition will be the living embodiment of our longstanding motto – we give courage to others to do great things by our own examples of doing great things,” according to Erik Weihenmayer. “My incredible Everest climbing team and I decided that there would be no more fitting way to celebrate that anniversary than to provide that same example for the many brave men and women who were injured in their service to our country by leading a team of injured veterans on a similar journey,” Weihenmayer added.

The expedition has received generous support and underwriting from a wide variety of companies and individuals, including Quaker, Polartec, the National Guard, ADS, ALPA, Boy Scouts of America, CGSchool, Circadence, Deloitte, Disabled Sports USA, JB Sanfilippo and Son, KFC, La Sportiva, Motorola, Mountain Hardware, Ocean Spray, Outward Bound, Sybil Robinson, United Airlines Pilots (individually), West Pharmaceuticals, AmeriPride, Bent Gate Mountaineering, Dermatone, and Statos Global.

“I want to personally thank all our sponsors for their generous support. Their support of these warriors and World T.E.A.M. Sports has made this expedition possible,” said Jeff Messner.

To donate and to support this expedition, please visit the official expedition site.

About World T.E.A.M. Sports
Since 1993, World T.E.A.M. Sports has been using the power of adaptive sports to provide opportunities to individuals living with a disability by having people of all abilities join together to overcome soul-stirring athletic challenges. In an effort to change the way the world views athletes of all abilities. World T.E.A.M. Sports hosts a variety of challenging athletic events to promote inclusion and, thereby educating people and communities about true human ability while enabling individuals to realize their own. A registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, World T.E.A.M. Sports is more than an organization; it is a movement to change the way the world perceives all athletes.