Photo - SOF ice axeOn the evening of June 11, five senior members of Canada’s Special Operations Forces community reached the summit of Mount Logan, the highest peak in the country and the second highest in North America.

The climb was part of recent celebrations to commemorate the birth of modern special operations in Canada through an expedition that would test the team’s ability to manage risk in challenging situations and environments.

A six-member team departed from base camp on the Quintino Sella Glacier in the Yukon’s Kluane National Park on May 28, ascending the 19,545-foot peak over two weeks through temperature extremes, snow, periodic high winds, and the evacuation of one member due to symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema.

At the summit, they planted an ice pick inscribed with the names of every Canadian soldier who had lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.

The six veteran members of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, two captains, a chief warrant officer, a master warrant officer, a warrant officer and a lieutenant-colonel, range in age from 43 to 53. All six are military mountain operations instructors and proposed the climb in 2011 as a way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of modern SOF in Canada.

BGen Denis Thompson, commander of CANSOFCOM, recognized the climb as an opportunity to provide inspiration to younger and newer members of the special forces community. But he also saw a chance to “test drive” some new high alpine equipment during the climb and over several preparatory excursions in the Rockies this past year.