At an elevation of more than 13,800 feet, Gannett Peak is a good symbol for the challenges life can throw at you.
Through Warriors to Summits, a group of wounded military veterans is training to summit the Wyoming peak as a team — and then use their newly developed abilities to help them overcome some of the challenges they now face as civilians.
The 2015 Warriors to Summits team of wounded veterans gathers near Golden, Colorado, to get to know each other and begin training for their climb of Wyoming’s Gannett Peak in September
Benny Sanchez of El Paso, Texas, completed five deployments while serving with the U.S. Army’s Third Infantry Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
Denny Salisbury of Lakeport, California, joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, burns, a broken ankle, and back injuries in an explosion in Iraq.
Gina Kothe of Shokan, New York, joined the Army at age 16 via the delayed entry program. She has four children.
Boyd Murphy of Springfield, Virginia, served with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Battalion, the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 1/10 Field Artillery unit.
As a captain in the U.S. Army National Guard, Ryan Kelly flew Black Hawk helicopter combat missions and commanded more than 100 soldiers and contractors in Iraq.
The Warriors to Summits team gears up for training.
Nathan Wright of Cypress, Texas, served five years as a forward observer with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
Originally from New York state, Jim Stanek Jr. was a volunteer firefighter who served at Ground Zero after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. His work there inspired him to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he served with the 82nd Airborne and the 1st Infantry Division.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Janet Gonzalez served in the U.S. Army in a number of assignments, including casualty notification. She now lives in Bronx, New York.
Charley Mace is one of the expedition leaders for Warriors to Summits. He has guided climbs on every continent.
Kyle Miller of Billings, Montana, served with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, 317th Engineer Battalion. He has been a Wells Fargo team member since 2005.
Expedition leader Jeff Evans instructs the Warriors to Summits team on climbing glacial terrain using ropes, crampons, and ice axes.
Amado “Buddy” Gracia of Cameron, North Carolina, says he views defending the U.S. as the highest honor any American could have. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps for 15 years.
Mark Yearsley of Jerome, Idaho, served in the U.S. Air Force as an air traffic controller. In addition to his service during the Gulf War, he also served in Southwest Asia.
Jeff Evans, one of the expedition leaders for Warriors to Summits, has been guiding climbing expeditions all over the world for decades.
Paul Smith of Ardmore, Oklahoma, served in the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division for three years before being injured in an explosion in Iraq.
The Warriors to Summits philosophy: “What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”
The veterans have disabilities ranging from prosthetic limbs to traumatic brain injury to post-traumatic-stress disorder. But they’re relying on the principles they learned in the military — and on each other — to acquire the skills to navigate the mountain and reach its summit on Sept. 11.
Amado “Buddy” Gracia, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, says, “I was in a rut, withdrawn . . . I just didn’t have the drive anymore. So I’m hoping that this expedition with these amazing individuals will definitely help me get over that so I can not only do it with them, but I can do it on my own.”