Military News

Thursday, June 25, 2015

McChord commander summits mountains with squadron pride

by Airman 1st Class Keoni Chavarria
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/23/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- If you wanted to show the pride you have with the Airmen you work with every day, how would you do it?

To show his pride, Maj. Clinton Varty, 62nd Maintenance Squadron commander, has carried the 62nd MXS flag to the summit of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and Mount Adams, the three highest mountains in Washington.

"Taking the flag up was something I found important. I wanted to carry the pride of our squadron up these mountains, and I hope it encourages more Airmen to get out there," said Varty.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Varty has also accomplished a long awaited goal he has had since he was a child.

"I have admired Mount Rainier my whole life growing up and looking at it," said Varty.  "When I look up at the summit now, it's cool knowing I've climbed the mountain."

To prepare for the hikes, Varty and his partner practiced rescue procedures, checked their gear to ensure they are ready, and went into the climb knowing that there is a possibility that something bad could happen.

"For Mount Rainier, we even did three training climbs with our packs containing all of our gear to prepare," said Varty.

Even though Varty thoroughly panned each hike, it did not eliminate all of its challenges.

"Coming down with a pack and heavy gear, going down a steep hill was more nerve racking then going up because you are looking down."

On all three of the hikes, Varty set up camp to stay on the mountain for the night.

"The hard part was trying to get some sleep at 8 p.m. in the summer while the suns still out," said Varty.

A key point to the hike was to keep moving, according to the major.

"You don't want to stop," he said. "At above 10,000 feet, if you stop for more than 10 minutes your face, hands and feet start to get cold along with the sweat on you. It takes about half an hour for you to get warmed up again."

Varty added that one thing that pushed him through the hike was the belief of mind over matter.

"If you put your mind to anything, you can accomplish it," said Varty. "Physically it was difficult, but if you keep your end goal in mind, which was the summit, you will be able to do it."

During the time of these climbs, Varty was a newcomer to the world of hiking, but he hopes that in the near future he will be able to take other Airmen that are interested out to the summit.

"I highly encourage all Airmen to get outdoors and explore the Pacific Northwest. There are oceans, rainforest, skiing, and amazing hiking, climbing, and camping areas out here," said Varty.

For more information on these opportunities contact the Northwest Adventure Center at 253-967-8282.

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