Himalaya Fall 2011: Walking With The Wounded Summit Manaslu

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While the Fall Himalaya season pretty much wrapped up last week, I thought it was worth sharing one more story from the big mountains. Last Wednesday, a team of seven wounded servicemen, representing the Walking with the Wounded organization, reached the summit of Manaslu, which at 8150 meters (26,739 ft), is the eighth highest mountain in the world.

The seven soldiers were climbing as part of the Himex squad and were using this expedition as a training exercise for a planned attempt on Everest next spring. For a time, it seemed that bad weather would keep them from reaching the top, but a late season window opened early last week, giving them access to the summit. Taking advantage of those improved conditions, the team of Andrew Hawkins, Manindra Rai, Karl Hinnet, David Wiseman, Francis Atkinson, Jaco Van Grass and Martin Hewitt were able to complete their goal and stand on the top of the Himalayan peak. Two other members of the team turned back due to issues with altitude.

 For Van Grass and Hewitt, this was another well earned milestone, as those two men also went to the North Pole this past spring in support of the Walking with the Wounded organization. The charitable foundation works diligently to raise funds that go directly to assisting British servicemen and women who have been injured in the line of duty. Those funds are used to help re-train and re-skill them for life after their service is done.

With Manaslu behind them, the team will now look ahead to Everest. If they are successful in that climb, they’ll become the first group of wounded servicemen to successfully top out on the world’s tallest peak. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about those efforts next year.

Congrats to the whole team on a job well done!

Kraig Becker