At 14,505 feet, California’s Mt. Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous U.S. For thirteen wounded veterans who climbed the mountain as a part of Soldiers to Summits: Mission Mt. Whitney, they proved to themselves — and their communities — that taking small steps can result in huge accomplishments.
The veterans who conquered Mt. Whitney have a range of injuries, both physical and psychological, as a result of their military service. Soldiers to Summits helps wounded veterans like them re-discover their potential.
It’s a program that’s part of No Barriers USA, whose mission is to help veterans overcome barriers and live lives of purpose. Sponsored this year by Wells Fargo, Soldiers to Summits’ journey-based expeditions range from one day to three weeks in length, and have taken veterans to Nepal, Ecuador, Peru, the South Pole, and locations all around the U.S.
After weeks spent preparing for the physical and mental rigors of climbing Mt. Whitney, ten men and 3 women began their ascent on the morning of September 6. (Meet the soldiers.)
They climbed during the day and camped at night. They dealt with the increasingly thinning air, rain, and cold. And though the mountain seemed daunting at first, by putting one foot ahead of the other, the participants learned that together, they could find a way to go on. And after climbing for five days, the veterans reached Mt. Whitney’s peak on September 11, just in time to watch the sun rise. (Watch a film about the veterans training expedition and one that follows them on the climb as they conquer Mt. Whitney.)
“For us, this wasn’t just a sponsorship. It was truly an honor,” says Jerry Quinn, Wells Fargo Military Affairs program manager. The support for the veterans extended beyond the sponsorship, as Wells Fargo team members raised more than $20,000 on their own for the cause.
Soldiers to Summits is just one way we support the men and women who serve our country. In 2012, Wells Fargo pledged $35 million over three years as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting military service members, veterans and their families. The commitment includes donations and support valued at $30 million to qualifying nonprofits that serve military service members and veterans, hiring and mentoring initiatives, housing donations, customized financial education efforts, and funds for philanthropic donations and sponsorships.
The husband of a Wells Fargo team member was among the veterans who climbed Mt. Whitney.