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Cold comfort: True Patriot Love expedition to Antarctica raises money for suffering soldiers and their families.

WOUNDED CANADIAN SOLDIERS teamed up with True Patriot Love (TPL) and Canadian business leaders to battle the coldest continent in the world to raise funds for Canada's military families and veterans.

On February 1,2016 the True Patriot Love Scotiabank Expedition: Antarctica team--comprised of eight ill and injured soldiers, 15 Canadian business leaders, and five team specialists--arrived back home in Canada after a two-week trek to the summit of Vinson Massif--the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the world's Seven Summits (the highest mountains of each of the seven continents).

Vinson Massif is 21 kilometres long and 13 kilometres wide. It lies on the southern part of the main ridge of the Sentinel Range and was named after Carl G. Vinson, a Georgia congressman and a major force in 20th century U.S. Antarctic exploration. Vinson Massif was first climbed in December 1966 by a group from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation.

Climbing Vinson Massif is no easy task. In order to prepare for this challenge, participants were required to train individually as well as attend a four-day training camp located two hours north of Canmore, Alberta in the Columbia Icefields. The training camp took place from August 13-18,2015. There, participants learned valuable skills such as mountain camping, rope walking, walking with crampons (spikes on the bottom of shoes for walking on ice or rock) and how to use an ice axe, among many other key skills. On the last day of the training camp, participants put their skills to good use, and summited Boundary Peak at almost 10,000 feet.

As with the two previous TPL Foundation expeditions--to the Himalayas in 2012 and the North Pole in 2014--the purpose of the journey was to bring attention to the challenges that serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, their families and veterans face each day. By bringing these challenges into the spotlight, TPL strives to provide inspiration to those facing these issues every day, and also garner financial support and awareness from Canadians across the country. To date, the Antarctica expedition has raised over $2 million to support Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans and their families.

On January 5, 2016 the team members departed for the southernmost continent where they will face physical and mental challenges--thin air, high altitudes and temperatures hovering around -40 degrees Celsius. After a stopover in Chile, a freight plane dropped the climbers off on a blue-ice runway in central Antarctica. Twin Otter planes then flew the small groups to the base camp. On January 17, after a few days of snow had halted any movement, 20 of the 26 participants and 5 guides of the expedition successfully reached the summit, making it the largest summit group in the history of Vinson Massif.

The team returned to Canada in late January after a brief stay in Punta Arenas, Chile, where they spent a few days gathering their things, organizing their bags and warming up after their arduous 10-day journey in Antarctica.

"One of the soldiers gave me a big hug at the bottom and he thanked me for being part of this and helping to bring awareness to the soldiers and to PTSD," said Heather Moyse, two-time Olympic gold medalist. "I wasn't emotional until that moment and then we couldn't stop crying for about half an hour."

"I have learned more from our veterans on these expeditions --about bravery, patriotism, service and a commitment to leaving no one behind--than from any activity I have ever undertaken," said Timothy Hodgson, TPL expedition co-chair. "Our vets are truly inspirational."

The expedition team was led by mountaineer Ryan Waters and his team from Mountain Professionals, including experienced team captains Meagan McGrath (soldier team) and Scott Kress (civilian team). Also joining the expedition were Dr. Markus H. Besemann, Dr. Sarah Dentry-Travis and Kristian Bogner.

Besemann is head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for the Canadian Forces Health Services Group and made sure the participants were safe and healthy before, during and after the expedition. A biathlete and former army reservist, Dentry-Travis conducted research for her work at the University of Manitoba about the effects of stress on veterans with PTSD. From start to finish, the expedition was captured by world-class adventure photographer and Nikon ambassador Kristian Bogner.

True Patriot Love is extremely grateful to the many generous sponsors and partners that allow funds to be raised to benefit Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and their families from coast-to-coast, including Scotiabank, Canada Goose, Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), Medcan, Loblaw Companies Limited, Longos, Frank & Debbi Sobey, Sobeys Inc., Save-On-Foods, and Nikon.

Caption: ABOVE RIGHT: True Patriot Love Scotiabank Expedition team celebrates on Union Glacier in Antarctica, (kristian bogner, mon ambassador)

Caption: Civilian team: Alain Pelchat, Andy Chisholm, Anne-Marie Sorrenti, Anthony Longo, Brian Carney, Claire Kennedy, David Hodgson, Geordie Young, Heather Moyse, Larry Stevenson, Micheal Tait, Phillip Smith, Rick Byers, Tim Duncanson, and Tim Hodgson. Soldier team: Anouk Beauvais, Jeremy Blair, Bojan Joksimovic, Simon Nadeau, Stephen Rice, Glen Villa, and Thomas White, (kristian bogner, nikon ambassador)

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Title Annotation:PERSPECTIVES
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Geographic Code:8ANTA
Date:Apr 1, 2016
Words:849
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