Team Of Airmen To Attempt Mount Everest Climb | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

** Airborne 11.21.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne 11.21.14 **
** Airborne 11.19.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne 11.19.14 **
** Airborne 11.17.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne 11.17.14 **

Thu, Jan 24, 2013

Team Of Airmen To Attempt Mount Everest Climb

Would Be The First U.S. Military Team To Summit The World's Highest Mountain

Four Air Force Academy graduates may be busy preparing to climb the world's highest peak in May, but they haven't forgotten where mountaineering first began for them: here, climbing Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks as cadets. A team of six seasoned Air Force mountaineers currently stationed in Colorado, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Virginia, will venture on a bold, 50-day journey, encountering frigid temperatures and demanding conditions, to stand atop Mount Everest's 29,029-foot summit. They will be the first American military team to attempt Everest and if successful, the first military team to have climbed each continent's highest mountain.

"They call it the 'third pole' -- the North Pole, South Pole and Everest," Capt. Marshall Klitzke said. "There is no other landmass higher that you, as a human being, can challenge yourself on. It's all aspects: the physical, the mental and the spiritual. Your success depends on so many variables: weather, timing, chance and preparation. Just having the experience to attempt it is the ultimate test."
 
The group will meet in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 26 to begin an acclimation period that will include climbing Nepal's 20,000-foot peak, Lobuche.

Klitzke, a 30-year-old KC-135 Stratotanker pilot and flight instructor here, visited Nepal last fall to climb the 22,349-foot peak, Ama Dablam, with Capt. Kyle Martin, an Academy graduate stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va., who will also scale Everest. "So far it's been the pinnacle of my mountaineering," Klitzke said. "I feel like it's given me the credentials to go after Everest."
 
Klitzke's passion for climbing developed in 2001, while he was a cadet at the Academy, and began regularly climbing the state's "fourteeners," skiing, camping and rock-climbing with friends. "We were always in the mountains," Klitzke said. "Since then it's stuck with me. In mountaineering, everything just kind of slows down, you're very much in the moment and everything else in life just kind of fades away."
 
Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander stationed at Schriever AFB, CO, is another Academy graduate who will join the team. Merrin's resume of peaks include Mount Rainier, Mount Whitney, Mount Blanc and Mount Aconcagua. "I want to climb Everest to be a part of something truly amazing," Merrin said. "Being an avid mountaineer, this was an opportunity that I could not turn down. I had heard about the team for years and knew that it would be a tremendous honor to be a part of such an elite group of climbers tackling the highest mountain in the world, and most importantly, supporting the ideals that the Seven Summits Team represents."
 
The risky, ambitious quest is part of the U.S. Air Force Seven Summits Challenge, a tax-exempt organization created in 2005 by special operations pilot Maj. Rob Marshall. The organization strives to honor service members who have lost their lives in the line of duty by leading teams of Airmen to the summit of each continent's highest peak. "What we want people to learn is that anything they're good at, whether it's climbing a mountain, running marathons, playing music or designing Web pages, they can find a way to use their skills to make the world better, whether it be promoting the Air Force or promoting the charity," Marshall said.

The organization has raised more than $60,000 for charities such as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the That Others May Live Foundation. The team has conquered six of the summits; Everest is the final mountain. "You're not going to find anybody on our climb that isn't in excellent shape and passionate about this," Marshall said. "The trip requires lot of money and time. They're all experienced climbers and two thirds of the team are Academy grads."
 
Marshall, a 2001 Academy graduate, said it was through his participation in the Academy's mountaineering and explorer's club that heightened his love for climbing. He scaled 27 peaks as a cadet. Marshall also plans to honor his tradition of doing push-ups on the summit. He is aware of the risks that come with mountaineering. In 2008, when Marshall's team climbed North America's highest peak, Mount McKinley, the group was tent bound for seven days after being caught in a heavy blizzard.
 
Being patient, reading the weather correctly and making the right risk management decisions will be important, Marshall said. "I think the biggest risk we're going to face on Everest is, 'How do we manage our team's schedule to avoid crowds but still give ourselves the best chance to get to the summit?'" Marshall said.

Klitzke said he hopes his mission to the top of the world will empower cadets. "Hopefully they will see beyond their four years here, see what's available and what they can accomplish in the Air Force and outside of it. It's amazing when you set big goals and tackle them -- what you can bring yourself to do."

Team members include:

  • Maj. Rob Marshall, 34, a V-22 Osprey pilot, from Mercer Island, WA, stationed in Amarillo, TX.
  • Capt. Andrew Ackles, 29, a TH-1N instructor pilot, from Ashland, OR, stationed at Fort Rucker, AL.
  • Capt. Kyle Martin, 29, a T-38 Talon pilot, from Manhattan, KS, stationed at Langley Air Force Base, VA.
  • Capt. Marshall Klitzke, 30, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot from Lemmon, SD, currently an instructor pilot at the Air Force Academy.
  • Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander from Santee, CA, stationed at Schriever AFB, CO.
  • Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, 36, a Reserve pararescueman and physician-assistant student from Gulf Breeze, FL, stationed at Patrick AFB, FL.

(Pictured: Capt. Marshall Klitzke scales Ama Dablam during a trip to eastern Nepal in fall 2012.)

FMI: www.af.mil

Advertisement

More News

Barnstorming: FAA -- The Original EPA

The Governmental Death By 1000 Cuts Continues... Guest Editorial by Rich Davidson, Grass Cutting Administrator At Lee Bottom Flying Field/API Advisory Board Did you feel that Aero->[...]

Airborne 11.21.14: AEA's 3Q/14 Report, Fantasy Of Flight, Modernizing The NAS

Also: Holland Wants Gold, FAA Strangling UAVs?, RAF WWII Trainer For Sale, Bf109s Live, Georgia v Aerospace Engineers The Aircraft Electronics Association has released its third-qu>[...]

Aero-TV: Lessons Learned -- Reflecting On Mark Baker’s First Year At AOPA

A No-Nonsense Q&A With AOPA Boss, Mark Baker ANN CEO and Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell sat down with AOPA’s President, Mark Baker to discuss his first year at the job and>[...]

AD: Agusta S.p.A. Helicopters

AD NUMBER: 2014-23-02 PRODUCT: Certain Agusta Model A109E, A109K2, A119, and AW119 MKII helicopters.>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (11.22.14)

Baja Bush Pilots The Baja Bush Pilots organization was started by Arnold Senterfitt, author of the book "Airports of Baja and Mainland Mexico".>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2014 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC