4Patriots Donates to Veterans Adventure Group's Mt. Rainier Climb

Veterans Adventure Group is known for providing challenging and fulfilling missions for U.S. veterans.

It doesn't get much more challenging than climbing a mountain. Especially Mount Rainier. It's the highest mountain in Washington state at 14,411 feet.

Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Due to its high probability of eruption in the near future.

The U.S. Geological Survey says 80,000 people and their homes are at risk from such an eruption.

Plenty of first-timers participate

In late spring 2021, the organization conducted three climbs of Mt. Rainier. The climbs overlapped so leadership and equipment could be left on the mountain to serve multiple trips.

The 36 people involved included 27 veterans and nine leaders. Twelve took part in each push, or climb. With three to four on each rope team.

"For the majority of climbers, this was the first event they did with us," said Justin Matejcek. He is President of Veterans Adventure Group.

Based in Middle Tennessee, the organization was launched by Justin in 2015. He sought to establish an opportunity for veterans to avoid or rebound from pitfalls associated with rejoining civilian life.

A challenging adventure

In 2020, 4Patriots and the Patriot Health Alliance (PHA) made a variety of product donations to Veterans Adventure Group.

For the Mt. Rainier climb in 2021, we donated a 4-Week Survival Food Kit and a Meat & Protein Kit. Plus Food Bars, a Patriot Power Cell, a Sun Kettle and an extra large Sun Kettle.

"Our Mt. Rainier trip is the longest duration spend in the elements of any of our trips," Justin said. "We spend three days on the mountain and two days at the staging house.

"We have had some retreats longer than three days. But none have participants sleeping in tents in sub-freezing temps and making water nonstop. And trying to rest, all while enduring physical exhaustion and learning critical skills."

Weather derails first push

Justin said the group encountered numerous challenges along the way. During the first push, they encountered the worst weather below their base camp he'd ever seen on the mountain.

"To put that in perspective, I've been climbing Mt. Rainier multiple times each year since 2016," he said. "It was slightly freezing rain and high winds. By the time we reached Camp Muir, everyone was soaked.

"Due to high winds, setting up tents wasn't an option. So we had to work with the Park Rangers to get access to the emergency shelter.

"The following morning the weather still hadn't improved much. With everyone's boots still soaked, I had the entire first group head back down."

Second push fares better

The group in the second push was forced to turn back on the first day due to the weather. But they started back up the next day.

"This is problematic. It’s extremely helpful to get a full night's rest at elevation to fight elevation sickness," Justin said. "It also means we have to do the mountaineering school once they arrive. So they're exhausted already.

"Unfortunately, the recent news of a slab avalanche near the summit and a crevasse that opened up leaving the route questionable was enough to get everyone's nerves up.

"Due to this news, one of the teams opted not to make a summit push. But six of us stepped off around midnight. All of us made the summit and returned to camp safely."

Third push summits after sunrise

"The third push arrived at Camp Muir with high spirits and a great forecast," he continued. "News of the route being set from the previous team had them feeling confident.

"Eleven of us left camp at midnight and everyone summitted shortly after sunrise. We had great weather, a solid route and strong-willed climbers. Five of those who made the summit were female veterans. One climber was 54 years old.

"The big challenge this group faced was breaking down the camp and getting all gear off the mountain. The last thing anyone wanted to do was to add an additional 20-30 pounds to their pack.

"We ended up crafting a makeshift sled and loaded it with about 100 pounds of equipment. We rode it down the hill as best we could."

A mission in civilian life

When Americans serve in the armed forces, they are given a mission. They develop a sense of duty and purpose. And they benefit from a committed network of support.

But what happens when those soldiers return to civilian life? What if they no longer have those things?

Unfortunately, many find themselves in that position. Some turn to alcohol or drugs to fill a void. An alarming number commit suicide.

Veterans Adventure Group helps vets manage their civilian lives. The focus is on organized groups of teams engaging in adventure therapy. Through these experiences, veterans develop networks. And levels of accountability.

Donations welcomed

For more active vets, these include extreme events. Such as mountain climbing and skydiving. Plus rock climbing and kite surfing. For others, there is scuba diving and skiing. As well as caving, hiking and nature excursions.

The nonprofit organization is open to all veterans regardless of their diagnosis. Missions are selected based on activities that push participants past their perceived limits toward challenges requiring a team-oriented mindset.

All donations to Veterans Adventure Group are used to purchase gear and mission-essential services. Including transportation and permits when applicable.

Those interested in making a donation to Veterans Adventure Group can visit VeteransAdventureGroup.org or their Facebook page.


  • Karen Osborn - January 24, 2022

    Being the widow of a Viet Nam veteran and a customer of 4 Patriots, I send my kudos to you for all the support you provide to our veterans. Way to go! Keep up your great work.

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