Éditoriaux Défense Sécurité Terrorisme Zones de conflits Logistique Livres de référence Liens
Terre Air Mer Gendarmerie Renseignement Infoguerre Cyber Recherche

Soldiers Scale North America

Soldiers Scale North America’s Highest Peak

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska – (AFPS) – June 30, 2014 – Driven by determination and trained in arctic survival, five paratroopers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, along with one soldier from the Army's Northern Warfare Training Center and two soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard, scaled the highest point in North America June 15.

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division makes its way across Summit Ridge on Alaska's Mount McKinley, June 15, 2014.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tyler Campbell

Mount McKinley, in Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve, rises to an elevation of 20,237 feet above sea level. It has an 18,000-foot base-to-peak rise in elevation -- the highest in the world in that category.

Athabaskan Alaska Natives' name for the mountain is Denali -- "The High One."

Weather conditions on the mountain are often extreme. Bitter cold, blinding sunlight, and high winds create very difficult climbing conditions.

Dangerous crevasses concealed by snow bridges present treacherous obstacles for climbers.

This climbing season has been particularly difficult. The 4/25 IBCT's climb team leader, Army Capt. Matthew Hickey, said he'd seen fewer than 30 percent of climbers reach the summit so far.

Hickey credits the discipline, training and equipment he and his team employed on their way up as key to their success. He said the team's mountaineering skills, cold-weather operations training, teamwork, and conditioning allowed them to keep their momentum as they pressed forward.

The other soldiers who made up the eight-member climbing team included Staff Sgt. John Harris, Sgt. Lucanus Fechter, Spc. Matthew Tucker, and Spc. Tyler Campbell. They joined forces with 1st Sgt. Nathan Chipman and Staff Sgt. Taylor Ward, from the Army's Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vt., and Staff Sgt. Stephon Flynn from the Northern Warfare Training Center in Black Rapids, Alaska.

The team followed the West Buttress Route to the summit of Mount McKinley, with each soldier hauling about 140 pounds of gear. They ate Army-issue dehydrated meals twice a day, boiling the water they needed to prepare the meals from snow they collected on the mountainside. However, those meals were not enough for the massive energy expenditure; they also snacked for added energy and nourishment.

Key mission objectives were to test and strengthen tactics, techniques, and procedures, while operating in a mountainous, high-altitude, cold-weather environment.

The team, sponsored by U.S. Army Alaska, took 13 days to reach Denali's summit. The mountain's oxygen-poor air left them with headaches and fatigue, which they countered by stopping at intermediate camps along the way to acclimate to the altitude and weather conditions.

They reached the top of Denali using mostly Army-issue equipment. Harris, the assistant team leader, said the Army's pull-behind Akhio sled system is heavier than most similar sleds, but because of its rigid pulling poles, navigating downhill and along the sides of slopes was easier. "We brought it along, despite the weight," Hickey said. "That was one of the reasons why we were on the mountain -- to test some of this new equipment, or equipment that has been in the inventory for a while that hasn't been used in an environment such as Mount McKinley."

The team's safety equipment was tested when Campbell fell into a snow-bridged crevasse. The safety harness and tethered line they wore every day saved him from plummeting to the bottom of the 80-foot-deep crevasse. "Personally, I love this piece of equipment," Campbell said. "It's part of the reason why I'm still here today."

"I think it was our fourth day on the mountain, not too far in," he explained. "It was gray out, you know, [there] was a little drizzle, a little snow, and it just looked like a normal slope to me." Campbell added, "We knew there were crevasses around, but we didn't see them. There was a snow bridge that I walked on, and it was just too weak to hold me up, and I just started falling.”

His fall was stopped about 15 feet down when the safety line rope went tight. He used his training in crevasse rescue to climb nearly to the top where he was assisted the rest of the way. "[It was] probably one of the scariest experiences of my life," Campbell said. "We were doing everything as safely as we could, and I'm still here today because of the equipment we used."

The team agreed that safety training and risk-mitigation were key factors to their successful and safe journey. They also said that even though they were in a bitterly cold, unforgiving environment, turning back before reaching the summit never crossed their minds.
In all, the team spent 16 days on Mount McKinley.

On summit day, they reached the top of the mountain in a cloud. With limited visibility, nausea, fatigue and heads pounding, they celebrated and snapped some pictures -- but they didn't stay long.

Having conquered the summit, they began a rapid descent for a hot shower and a warm meal.

 


Derniers articles

Verdun 2016 : La légende de la « tranchée des baïonnettes »
Eyes in the Dark: Navy Dive Helmet Display Emerges as Game-Changer
OIR Official: Captured Info Describes ISIL Operations in Manbij
Cyber, Space, Middle East Join Nuclear Triad Topics at Deterrence Meeting
Carter Opens Second DoD Innovation Hub in Boston
Triomphe de St-Cyr : le Vietnam sur les rangs
Dwight D. Eisenhower Conducts First OIR Missions from Arabian Gulf
L’amiral Prazuck prend la manœuvre de la Marine
Airmen Practice Rescuing Downed Pilots in Pacific Thunder 16-2
On ne lutte pas contre les moustiques avec une Kalachnikov...
Enemy Mine: Underwater Drones Hunt Buried Targets, Save Lives
Daesh Publications Are Translated Into Eleven Languages
Opération Chammal : 10 000 heures de vol en opération pour les Mirage 2000 basés en Jordanie
Le Drian : Daech : une réponse à plusieurs niveaux
Carter: Defense Ministers Agree on Next Steps in Counter-ISIL Fight
Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews
Carter Welcomes France’s Increased Counter-ISIL Support
100-Plus Aircraft Fly in for Exercise Red Flag 16-3
Growlers Soar With B-1s Around Ellsworth AFB
A-10s Deploy to Slovakia for Cross-Border Training
We Don’t Fight Against Mosquitoes With a Kalashnikov
Bug-Hunting Computers to Compete in DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge
Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation
DoD Cyber Strategy Defines How Officials Discern Cyber Incidents from Armed Attacks
Vice Adm. Tighe Takes Charge of Information Warfare, Naval Intelligence
Truman Strike Group Completes Eight-Month Deployment
KC-46 Completes Milestone by Refueling Fighter Jet, Cargo Plane
Air Dominance and the Critical Role of Fifth Generation Fighters
Une nation est une âme
The Challenges of Ungoverned Spaces
Carter Salutes Iraqi Forces, Announces 560 U.S. Troops to Deploy to Iraq
Obama: U.S. Commitment to European Security is Unwavering in Pivotal Time for NATO
International Court to Decide Sovereignty Issue in South China Sea
La SPA 75 est centenaire !
U.S. to Deploy THAAD Missile Battery to South Korea
Maintien en condition des matériels : reprendre l’initiative
La veste « léopard », premier uniforme militaire de camouflage
Océan Indien 2016 : Opérations & Coopération
Truman Transits Strait of Gibraltar
Navy Unveils National Museum of the American Sailor
New Navy, Old Tar
Marcel Dassault parrain de la nouvelle promotion d’officiers de l’École de l’Air
RIMPAC 2016 : Ravitaillement à la mer pour le Prairial avant l’arrivée à Hawaii
Bataille de la Somme, l’oubliée
U.S., Iceland Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
Cléopatra : la frégate Jean Bart entre dans l’histoire du BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser
Surveiller l’espace maritime français aussi par satellite
America's Navy-Marine Corps Team Fuse for RIMPAC 2016
Stratégie France : Plaidoyer pour une véritable coopération franco-allemande
La lumière du Droit rayonne au bout du chemin





Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

Contact