Lieutenant Colonel Marc Hoffmeister, of Eagle River, Alaska, is a lifelong outdoorsman who had long intended to climb Denali, the nation’s highest peak. But in 2007, while serving in Iraq, a roadside bomb exploded and tore apart his arm, leaving him with a future of surgeries, rehabilitation and recovery.
But Hoffmeister had a promise to keep. He and his wife Gayle had planned to climb Denali together. So Hoffmeister, he says, decided “I will not accept my wounds as a reason to forego my dreams. My arm may no longer perform as it once did, but my spirit and some ingenuity will overcome that obstacle.”
Hoffmeister embarks June 1st for the summit of Denali, along with a team of three other wounded warriors, all veterans of the war in Iraq. The departure of ‘Operation Denali’ marks the culmination of a long period of preparation and recovery to overcome their debilitating combat injuries.
Bridgedale, which has created high quality socks for outdoor enthusiasts for over 25 years, has outfitted the team with socks suitable for their daily training and the cold, high altitude conditions they will encounter on the 20,320’ foot peak.
To pursue his goal of climbing Denali, Hoffmeister recruited three other soldiers who share his mindset and passion for the outdoors: U.S. Army soldiers Sergeant First Class (ret) Matt Nyman of Hope Mills, NC and Specialist Dave Shebib of Morgan Hill, CA, who is currently stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska; and U.S. Marine Corps Captain (ret) Jon Kuniholm (Durham, NC). They’ve been preparing for a successful bid for Denali’s summit for over a year, with rigorous conditioning, physical rehabilitation and training specific to cope with their injuries. Nyman and Kuniholm’s injuries are the most significant – they lost a leg and an arm, respectively. Their training included completing a twelve-day mountaineering course with the Alaska Mountaineering School in July 2008 to gain a solid foundation of skills needed for Denali. Gayle Hoffmeister and Robert Haines, of Fountain, Colorado are joining the team as support climbers.
Together, Hoffmeister says, the Operation Denali team hopes "to inspire others with the story of our team, our recovery, our expedition and our goals for the future."
For more information on Operation Denali, visit http://www.theveteranscoalition.org/operation_denali/.
Bridgedale specializes in socks, with nearly 100 years of knitting experience behind every pair. Based in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, Bridgedale manufactures in a community that once supplied socks to the British soldiers of World War I. The Bridgedale brand, established in 1983, creates technically advanced socks for skiing, outdoor, sport and every day use and is known for its legendary durability. Experienced craftsmen carry on a tradition of innovation – including WoolFusion® yarn technology, the first women’s fit outdoor socks, and sculpted cushioning. Bridgedale is sold worldwide; Garmont North America, Inc. distributes the Bridgedale brand in North America. For more information, visit bridgedale.com.