2016 was another great year for the “Climb for Heroes” event. So far the event has raised close to $120K to help these wounded veterans in expeditions around the world to reach some of the highest peaks. Today USMC SSGT Charlie Linville is on his way to Nepal to try for the 3rd time to be the first Veteran Amputee to reach the peak of Mt Everest. Unfortunately the last two years had some disastrous unforeseen circumstances with the avalanche that killed 16 Sherpas 2 years ago and closed down the climbing season in 2014 and then again with the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal last year killing many on the mountain and devastating the region. Charlie and the team stayed and helped as best as they could after that travesty and now they are back again to give it another go. You can read more about it here. People Magazine’s Article on Charlie and the Heroes Project.
The event starts in the parking lot of the Mt Baldy Ski area. Once you check in you can get some food provided by one of the event sponsors Tender Greens, before you get your teams together and start the hike. Then its time for a leg burner. Right out of the gate you hit the first hill and climb some 460 feet of elevation in less then 1/2 mile as you make your way up to the fire road that leads up to Mt Baldy Ski Area.
Once the fire road is reached the pace picks up a little. The road winds its way up to the “Notch” at Mt Baldy ski area. you will gain about 850 feet of elevation or so as you make your way along the fire road for a little over 2 miles. One of the many things I like about this event is that there are 4 camps on the trail and one at the summit, at each camp you will receive a coin that you can turn back in latter for “Swag” and at each camp one of the many wounded veterans that benefits from this organization and event will be there to hand you that coin, I’ve never heard so many people thanking veterans for their service before, its a great chance to meet these brave souls and thank them for what they have done, and I think its a great way for these veterans to feel the love and thanks from their fellow Americans.
Once at the “Notch” it is your last chance to use the restrooms before you move on to the next adventure so take advantage of it. People must have thought I was slightly crazy because as female members of my team keep reaching this point I keep informing them that this was their last chance at a real bathroom for a while and that they should take advantage of it.
After the “Notch”, the service road will continue to make its way up the mountain for another 1.4 miles and 860 feet of elevation gain going from 7780 feet to 8650 feet, passing by camp two and finally hitting camp 3 before it starts to become a real trail and you make your way along the “Devils Backbone”. If you where not feeling the elevation before you probably are by now.
After camp 3 you will make your way along the famous “Devils Backbone”. Going from 8600 feet to 9400 feet over the next 1.4 miles with some spectacular views to either side of you as you make your way along a trail that is sometime only a couple of feet wide as it makes its way along the ridge of the mountain. The “Climb for Heroes” event team sets up a rope along the most sketchy part of this hike for your safety and has some team members stationed along the way in case someone needs some help. I think this section is the most fun part of the hike with unbelievable views off to either side of you.
At camp 4 USMC SSGT Charlie Linville was waiting to hand you your 4th coin, this was a good chance to say my thanks and collect my breath before the last ball buster of a hill on the way to the peak on Mt Baldy. The last hill gains almost 700 feet of elevation as you make your way from 9400 to 10,064 feet in just a half a mile. You will defiantly feel the elevation at this point, so take your time and cheer your fellow hikers as they make their way up the beast towards the top.
Once you make it to the top join they many throngs of hikers as they take their pictures with the MT Baldy Plaque and don’t forget to get your 5th coin and say thanks to another veteran. Take your time at the top, enjoy the view. Its all down hill from here.
Once you have made your way back down to the Mt Baldy Ski Area “Notch” you can decide whether or not your want to hike down the last couple of miles on the dirt road or take the Chair Lift down for $12. Supposedly its only slightly faster then walking down, but if you have some tired dogs (feet) you may find it worthy of your $12. At the very bottom in the parking lot don’t forget to turn your coins in for “Swag”, and take advantage of the food that Tender Greens is serving. It was another great event this year and I’m looking forward to hiking with friends again next year in support of this great cause. Until then you can check out more information on this organization below.
Video of the 2015 Climb for Heroes Event.