After being turned back at Everest Base Camp twice by huge natural disasters in previous years, Charlie Linville and Tim Medvetz of The Heroes Project have finally achieved their goal: standing on the summit of the tallest mountain in the world.
The Heroes Project confirmed Thursday that the pair reached the top of Mount Everest and are on their way back down. Arriving at Everest Base Camp on April 17, they were delayed by a snowstorm before reaching advanced base camp May 2. They began their climb earlier this week and made a push for the summit late Wednesday.
“I am so proud that he finally got to make an actual attempt at the mountain,” said Mandi Linville, his wife. “Not only did he make an attempt, but he made it.”
In Boise, Mandi spent a sleepless night researching weather conditions and waiting for a call from the summit, which arrived at 9:30 a.m. in Boise.
“It’s time to go into celebration mode,” she said. “I’m going to throw him the biggest freaking party. It’s come full circle. It’s only fair that something so risky and so scary — it’s only appropriate that we celebrate the victory.”
Linville is the first combat-wounded veteran to reach the Everest summit, according to The Heroes Project. His right leg is amputated below the knee after he stepped on an unexploded bomb in Afghanistan in 2011.
“(Charlie’s) doing things most people wouldn’t imagine doing, let alone an amputee,” said Mandi.
He and Medvetz trained for three years for this moment.
In 2014, they were 24 hours from starting their climb 2 when an avalanche roared through the Khumbu Icefall, which separates the base camp from Camp 2. Sixteen Nepalese guides were killed and the mountain was closed.
In 2015, after equally arduous training, Linville and Medvetz were eating lunch at base camp when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, centered in Nepal, killed thousands of people and caused avalanches on Everest. The government deemed the risk too great and the mountain was again closed to climbing.
“I’ve been with this guy since I was 15,” said Mandi. “He’s not a person who starts something and doesn’t finish it. I knew year one, OK, he’s going back.
“Year two was higher anxiety. I knew it wasn’t going to be finished for him until he actually got to try. It was such unfinished business for him.”
The team climbed the north face of Everest, making them the first to reach the summit via that route during the 2016 season. The team also included videographer Kazuya Hiraide, producer Ed Wardle and “Climb Alaya,” a team of Sherpas with whom Medvetz has previously climbed.
The nonprofit Heroes Project was founded by Medvetz, who was in a severe motorcycle crash in 2001. The project leads mountaineering expeditions with wounded veterans and active service members, using climbing as a measure of strength, recovery and pride. Among them, they’ve climbed six of the Seven Summits — the highest peaks on each continent — plus a few others for good measure. But the tallest summit was elusive.
“My lucky number is three,” said Mandi. “This was the last year, no matter what. I wanted him to go out with a bang and get what he deserved — closure to this long, arduous task.”