A total of 22 wounded warriors from throughout the nation (Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton and Balboa Naval Medical Center, Florida, and Texas) gathered for the tenth annual Operation High Altitude, presented by Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra.  From June 6th through the 10th, participants with disabilities (including PTSD, TBI, below knee amputee, above knee amputee, and more) had life changing experiences through exposure to different therapeutic activities.

A total of 32 participants attended the camp, including 22 wounded warriors, two Camp Pendleton staff and eight guests of wounded warriors.  Korean War veteran Bing Bingham and his wife Jody returned again to share his experiences with the younger veterans.  Perfect weather, abundant fun, and therapeutic, empowering activities made the event a great experience for all.

After the group set up camp at McGee Creek Campground Monday afternoon, they were treated to a welcome dinner hosted by the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department.  This semi-annual tradition starts the week with a great round of introductions and fabulous hospitality. 

A highlight of the week was Tuesday morning at June Lake Beach, when General Ted Banta, USMC, spoke to the whole group, who was gathered in part for the Dick Noles Wounded Warrior Pathway ribbon cutting ceremony.  This brand new accessible mobi-mat pathway leads from the restrooms at June Lake Beach all the way into the water and even offers a 100-foot stretch along the beach for individuals with mobility issues to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery.  This mat was the generous gift of four donors in honor of Dick Noles; Dave McCoy, Bob Schotz, John Frederickson and Randy Short. Dick Noles passed away in November and he was instrumental in developing accessible waterways in the Eastern Sierra.  The athletes enjoyed an absolutely perfect day of paddling and swimming on June Lake thanks to Rob Witherall and Mammoth Kayaks.

Wednesday morning local fishing guides came together to take the athletes fly fishing on Crowley Lake.  Many delicious fish were caught for dinner that night!  Huge thanks to all… Mark Spieler and his fishing guides who donated their time and expertise.  This was followed by an afternoon of cycling at Shady Rest Park compliments of Footloose Sports.

Thursday, with the help of Neil Satterfield and Howie Schwartz from Sierra Mountain Guides, everyone tried rock climbing by either making it up a variety of top roped ascents and/or on a highline Tyrolean traverse.  What a successful day!  Thursday night was our farewell Hootenanny catered by Breakfast Club host Sue Ebersold and help from her talented friends: Fred, Scottie B., Cowboy and Simone! Our entertainers were Cowboy Poet Larry Maurice and musician Derik Olson.

Friday morning was a day of farewells as the bus took many of our athletes back to Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton.  The remaining veterans relaxed at the Whitmore pool and then bowled several games at Mammoth Rock N Bowl before flying home.

What a fabulous week!  Thank you so much to all of the wonderful people and businesses who made this incredible event possible:  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, McGee Creek RV Park & Campground, Mammoth Kayaks, Sierra Mountain Guides, The Breakfast Club, Pita Pit, Eastside Bakery, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Silver Lake Resort, Mammoth Disposal Inc, Whitmore Pool & the Town Of Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Rock ‘N Bowl, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Crowley Lake General Store, Canine Companions for Independence, Footloose Sports, Eastern Sierra Fishing Guides Association, Randy Short, Bob Schotz, Dave McCoy, John Fredericksen, Larry Maurice, Derik Olson, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply and all of our DSES volunteers who are the backbone of the program!

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