TARPON 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.
CHALLENGE AND INSPIRE
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.
Original source here
This morning our Aconcagua Team members, Billy Costello, Pete Quintanilla, Josh Waisanen and Bryan Weideman appeared on the WTSP-TV Studio10 show. They talked about the climb, the conditions and the medical studies being conducted while making the ascent.
Show host Roxanne Wilder led the discussion and the guys did a great job representing CWVC. If you missed it you can click on the link to see the entire segment.
Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge Video Link
Thanks Studio 10 for taking an interest in CWVC and our Challenge Warriors!
Here’s the link to the video for Lloyd Sowers piece about our warriors as they were heading out for Aconcagua.
Follow up will take place when the guys return from Argentina at the beginning of March! I’ll updated with a link to that here when it is available.
The shadow cast over the Andes Range by Aconcagua’s summit from the rising sun. This is a treat they had today.
Congratulations to the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge Team!!! The summit was reached by some of the team yesterday!!!
We heard from our Alaska Mountaineering School liaison, Caitlin, last night. She reports that after a successful climb, the team was back at camp and had climbed into their sleeping bags after eating. We are sure they had a good nights sleep after the huge efforts everyone made today.
The summit day traverse trail is covered in snow, canaletta begins just out of sight of the trail near the triangular rock face.
Caitlin says the weather was clear and cold when they started their climb in the still very dark early morning hours. Part of the team went across a very long traverse, where the conditions consisted of a challenging mix of rocks, hard-packed snow and ice. Navigating some of that in the dark had to be incredibly difficult!!
Looking back at the traverse and the Andes. This location is almost at the base of the canaletta, a steep section which requires great effort.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the team as they return to base camp.
This climber sums it up! With view from the top of South America and the Western Hemisphere.
Climbers above the canaletta, on the summit ridge, which take so , so, so very long, everyone at this point is moving very slowly, 3-4 breaths for each step.
White Rocks campsite, 19,400′ note: this photo shows snow, our team does not have any.
We have a report in from our base camp liaison, Caitlin Palmer with the Alaska Mountaineering School!! She spoke to Colby Coombs around 20:00 Argentina time and got information on the guy’s locations, and updates on how everyone is doing and what they are planning on attempting in the next couple of days.
After a relatively short trip today of 3 hours and 45 minutes, the Aconcagua team arrived at White Rocks (19,400 feet) at 13:15 today. Everyone reports in as doing well and were enjoying resting this afternoon.
The team members aiming for the summit could be arriving there as soon as tomorrow if the weather remains good and everyone feels good. If they decide to make the summit attempt, it will be a slow and steady trip, as is normal at these high altitudes.
As we are getting reports in, the guys are sleeping so they are ready to hit the trail early in the morning. We are sure they are excited, but the temperatures are very cold and they will have to be wearing nearly all of their clothes as well as their big down-filled parkas for most of tomorrow.
View of White Rocks camp and the view of the andes beyond = AWESOME.
Caitlin says that Aconcagua is famous for it’s very viento blanco (white winds) and that the winds get very strong on the mountain, which could cause teams to wait for days and days for a summit attempt. Crossing fingers and hoping they have good luck when they get started on the trail to the top.
Everyone is in good spirits and we hope they are able to maintain their enthusiasm and health as they make an attempt to reach the top of Aconcagua in the next few days.
We are sooo excited to get to be a part of this, and we are grateful to Caitlin for keeping us informed as reports come in to her.
Go Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge Team!!!