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March To The Top: Former Canadian Soldiers Try To Conquer The Wounds Of War By Conquering A Mountain
October 4, 2012
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Winston Churchill once said "We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself, the means of inspiration and survival."

In many ways, it's a perfect sentiment for this story. It's about 12 former soldiers with Canada's Armed Forces, who are about to embark on an amazing adventure.

Together, they plan to climb to the 20,305 foot high summit of Island Peak - a mountain in the Himalayas not far from Mount Everest.

Not exactly a walk in the park. But here's the other incredible part of this story. All 12 former soldiers were wounded while serving our country, and are either ill or still recovering from their injuries.

For the journey, the CBC is following along as part of a documentary called 'March To The Top', which will air in January.

The former soldiers are due to arrive in Kathmandu in Nepal this weekend. From there, they plan to climb to Everest Base Camp and then, try to reach the summit of Island Peak on October 25.

Here's the trailer for the doc.

The idea behind it all, according to the 'March To The Top' website, is to help the soldiers with the "rediscovery of self and their emotional, physical and mental rehabilitation."

Here's an idea of what the soldiers have been through.


Corporal David Macdonald: while serving in Afghanistan, his patrol transport was involved in a rollover accident in March of 2009. He dislocated his left leg, injured his pelvis, crushed his left hand, suffered rib damage and neurological bleeding. In fact, he bruised 80% of his frontal lobe.

Macdonald says "My war with the Taliban ended that day in March but my war with my injuries just began and it's a war I continue to fight."


Station Commander Roseanna Mandy: In March of 2010, she was injured in a training incident and had surgery to rebuild her pelvis and femur. She spent months in a wheelchair, then moved on to walkers, crutches and canes. Now, she's able to water-ski, horseback ride, bike, hike, climb and is training to run a half-marathon this fall.


Sergeant Matthew Nilson: In September, 2008, he was hit by shrapnel that tore into and split open his right foot. He needed two emergency surgeries and 5 months recovery to regain the use of his foot. He still has several pieces of shrapnel in it but he keeps pushing himself to prove that any obstacle can be overcome.

You can read more of the soldiers stories here.

Filming for the documentary started with the group's training in the Canadian Rockies this past spring. The filmmakers will also go to the soldiers' homes to meet their families, to find out why they joined the military, what their lives are like now, and what their hopes are for the future.

You can follow the soldiers' climb to the summit of Island Peak on Facebook, and Twitter.

There's alsoa blog and an interactive map on the website. CBC Television and CBC Radio One will be covering the journey as well.

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