Wounded vet Charlie Linville becomes first combat amputee to summit Mount Everest

These Combat Amputee Veterans Are Taking on a Mountainous Mission
These Combat Amputee Veterans Are Taking on a Mountainous Mission

Charlie Linville accomplished a feat few people can claim on Thursday when he summit Mount Everest.

Even more miraculously, however, he became the first combat wounded veteran to reach the 29,029 foot peak — and he did so after losing his leg in Afghanistan during combat in 2011.

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Linville, a Marine Corps veteran from Boise, Idaho, was climbing with Nat Geo's "Going Wild" host Tim Medvetz, who is also founder of the Heroes Project.

The grass roots veterans' organization is based in Hollywood, California, which — with support from founding partners Equinox and Chrome Hearts — leads mountaineering expeditions with gravely wounded veterans and active service members, enabling them to rediscover their strength and pride by scaling the world's most challenging summits.

The death-deyfing challenge certainly worked Linville, 30, who told USA Today before the expedition that conquering the world's highest mountain would help vanquish personal "demons, showing ... people that no, don't you have pity for disabled veterans because we're capable of so much more than you think."

The former member of a bomb-disposal unit in Afghanistan has been climbing the mountain at the same time as another combat amputee, Chad Jukes, 32. They are part of separate teams climbing for two different veterans support organizations, with Jukes climbing for U.S. Expeditions & Explorations.

Medvetz led his "Operation Everest: 2016" expedition team up the northern route out of Tibet and with Thursday's summit, The Heroes Project team became the first to summit Mount Everest's North Face during the 2016 season. In addition to Linville, the team included videographer Kazuya Hiraide, producer Ed Wardle and "Climb Alaya," a team of Sherpas Medvetz has previously climbed with.

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The summit marks Linville's third attempt to summit Mount Everest with The Heroes Project, according to a statement from the organization. In 2014, the team was at Lobuche Peak (at 20,000 feet) near Everest Base Camp when then they decided to cancel their efforts to honor the 16 sherpas who lost their lives in the deadly avalanche on April 18.

Last year they were once again on the mountain and turned their attention to the recovery efforts throughout Nepal to help those most affected by the 7.8 earthquake that took the lives of thousands and caused mass devastation throughout the region.

This time around, the team arrived at Everest Basecamp on April 17, and encountered delays from a snowstorm before arriving at Advanced Basecamp (ABC) on May 2. They then focused on acclimation training to get their bodies adjusted to the conditions at 21,300 feet. They began their climb earlier this week and pushed to the summit late evening on Wednesday, May 18.

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After kick-starting training late 2015, Medvetz and Linville worked with Equinox on a training program where they would train anywhere from four to six hours per day. As part of that, Equinox created a specialized altitude deprivation chamber which allowed them to cycle for 2-hours a day at a simulated altitude of 17,000 feet.

During the final 2-months of training, the pair slept inside a Hypoxico Chamber, which simulated the altitude and oxygen levels at 18,000 feet, as well as enduring a Linville a grueling 24/7 training protocol to prepare for their summit.

"It's a whole movement that has become bigger than Tim Medvetz. And it's become bigger than Charlie Linville," Medvetz said of the expedition, CBS News reported. "All of a sudden you turn on the TV and here's a guy with one leg climbing Everest. If that don't get you off your butt to... take back your life, I don't know what is."

The dangers of the mountain were brought to life on the big screen with "Everest," starring Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin and Keira Knightley, which depicts a fatal blizzard in 1996.

Originally published