fox13-after-aconcagua-piece-video-imageTARPON SPRINGS (FOX 13) –

A special team of wounded veterans has notched another achievement.

Members of the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge reached the summit of Aconcagua, one of the highest mountains in the world.
“It was a desert-type climate and it was straight up,” says wounded veteran Pete Quintanilla describing the mountain in Argentina.
The summit is nearly 23,000 feet, the highest spot in the Western Hemisphere.

Quintanilla was wearing a specially designed prosthetic leg made of carbon fiber as he climbed it. Based on its performance during the climb, he’ll provide feedback to the designer to improve new prosthetics for others.


The nine-man team was organized at the group’s headquarters in Tarpon Springs. They unloaded their backpacks after the month-long expedition to Argentina.

Billy Costello also lost part of a leg while in the army, but he’s participated in several of these challenges, including a trip to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro last year.

“Mission success to us is challenge, research and inspire,” said Costello.

Team members always invite other combat wounded veterans to join them.

“This is what I’m doing. You can do it too,” says Quintanilla.


Some in the challenge climbed with wounds not so easy to see, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Psychologist Carrie Elk, PhD, founder of the Elk Institute, assists with counseling and performs case studies to help find out how factors like altitude and group dynamics affect them.

“The issues they’re having are certainly going to be stirred up when you’re trying to accomplish something in a team,” she said.

Several in the team said they feel more confident with each challenge. Plans are in the works for underwater challenges this summer in the Florida Keys.

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