McChord Airmen tackle Mt. Rainier summit

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sean J. Tobin
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Getting a view of a clear blue sky can be a pretty rare event in the Pacific Northwest. The grey cloud cover that often hovers over McChord Field and the surrounding area can sometimes feel a bit gloomy.

To fight off the gloom, many people turn to a rigorous exercise regimen, with the idea that a strong workout can help lay the path to a sound mind.

Of course, escaping the gloomy grey skies altogether can also help.

Recently, eight determined Airmen from the 10th Airlift Squadron were able to put both strategies into play when they reached the summit of Mount Rainier, July 29.

Mount Rainier ascends thousands of feet above the clouds and can be considered by most a very grueling climb.

"There is a world outside of this overcast layer which we forget about sometimes," said Capt. Aaron Scogin, airfield operations flight commander and one of the climbers to reach the summit.

All eight Airmen reached the peak of the mountain after enduring a climb that spanned three days, and had the team leaping over 900-foot-deep glacial crevasses on their way to the top.

For those looking for challenging ways to keep fit, mountain climbing is a great way to do it, said Scogin.

That's not to say everyone should run out and try to summit Rainier, he said. A lot of preparation has to go into an attempt like that.

"If you're in the 'excellent' category on your physical fitness test, that's your baseline," Scogin said. "And then you can improve from there."

Scogin, who said he was already in good shape prior to preparing for the climb, commented he further prepared for it by spending many hours exercising on stair machines and going on hikes carrying 60-pound bags.

Another one of the 10th AS climbers, Capt. Shane Hughes, said he had no previous climbing experience, but was able to tackle Mount Rainer because of his physical training and the climbing training he received beforehand.

"I felt confident enough to make the climb after receiving basic glacial skills and crevasse rescue training," said Hughes.

With the variety of mountains the area has to offer, the opportunities for someone to get started climbing are plenty.

"Up here in the Northwest it's really nice because it's kind of a ladder of difficulty," said Scogin. "It all depends on how hard you want to push yourself."

Along with Scogin and Hughes, the other 10th AS members who made the climb were Capt. Sean Billings, Capt. Bryce Graham, Capt. Andrew Saleh, Capt. Trenton Sandberg, Capt. Matthew Walton, and Lt. Col. Clint Zumbrunnen, the 10th AS commander.