Captain Kyle “Husky” Martin has been at 29,000 feet in the cockpit of a plane, but actually climbing there on foot, ascending to the summit of the tallest mountain on Earth, was an entirely different experience for him.
“When I got to the top, there was ribbon of light over Bangladesh as the sun was coming up,” said Martin. “I know, I know you cannot see the curvature of earth from 29,000 feet, but it sure looked like it.”
The pilot, based right here at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, captured his climb to the top of Mount Everest on a Go-Pro mounted on his helmet.
He was one of six airmen to scale the last peak in the Seven Summits Challenge.
The journey started eight years ago, when a team of Air Force mountaineers began climbing the seven tallest mountains of the world to honor the memory of fellow service members lost since 9/11.
“First day on the trail, I’m thinking, ‘Don’t let me screw this up,’” said Martin, an experienced climber who got his start in the Boy Scouts.
No one can climb Mount Everest in one fell swoop; the team performed what’s called cycles, climbing up, then coming back down, each time going higher, preparing themselves for 29,000 feet at the summit.
“Every day you feel miserable,” said Martin. “You really wanted to escape from being on the mountain.”
The other difficult thing was staying healthy–two team members didn’t actually get to the top of Everest because of illness.
For Captain Martin, a little blood blister caused by his climbing boots almost derailed his hike to the top.
“What a silly thing to lose the summit for, not tightening your boots on the way down,” said Martin.
In the end, he got there, with the help of his Air Force teammates.
After two months of hard work, they reached the summit of Mount Everest in the early morning hours of May 21st.
“For a moment, I let myself be there,” said Martin.“Being able to climb with a team, representing something better, or much bigger. It made me really proud to be part of the Air Force, and be an American service man. We did good out there, and I’m proud of what we did.”