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In the midst of attempting to scale the world’s seven highest peaks while assisting an injured veteran, Tim Medvetz’s idea of a summer getaway is beyond grueling.
With Mount Everest already checked off the list, he is now tackling Mount Kilimanjaro with retired sergeant Neil Duncan, a double amputee wounded in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Once that is conquered, Medvetz will have a two-week breather before heading for Elbrus in Russia with retired sergeant Keith Deutsch, who also lost a leg on tour in Afghanistan. As soon as those two summits are squared away, Medvetz plans to dive into filming a pilot survival series for the Discovery Channel, for which he headlined “Everest: Beyond the Limit” for two seasons. “They will drop me out of a plane into the Russian wilderness, and I will have to find my way out in five days. That sounds like heaven to me — and I will get paid,” he said without the slightest trace of sarcasm.
This story first appeared in the July 21, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As for why he’s so driven, Medvetz chalked it up to a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2001, which inspired him to climb Everest. “I’ve always been an adventure guy and adrenaline junkie. The ball game kind of changed for me when I was in the hospital for six months. That’s when I realized, ‘You know what? I can die any day,’” he said. “Now I’m always constantly thinking, ‘I’m going to die.’ You know how they say, ‘Seize the day?’ I’m that guy. I live that way every day.”
But his highway to the seven summits of the world is not fueled by ego. His intention is to raise awareness of the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that uses sports to help soldiers with debilitating injuries reenter society. Medvetz’s ascents are being filmed for a 90-minute documentary that will be given to severely injured soldiers at the Walter Reed National Medical Center’s outpost in Landstuhl, Germany.
One WWP representative — each with a different injury and of a different ethnicity — will be joining him on the remaining six ascents. “Basically, I’m the guide, motivator and I’m handling all the logistics. I’m prepared to short rope them up the mountain or carry them if I have to. I’m ready to do whatever is needed. One way or the other, we are going to do this,” Medvetz said. “This is not only an American project. Whether you are an Iraqi, Afghani, African or whatever, there are injured soldiers that need our help.”
The diversity of his fellow climbers is meant to help motivate others. “Hopefully, they will inspire soldiers that life doesn’t just end because you were severely injured in a war. I want them to see that they can go on with their lives,” Medvetz said.
Chrome Hearts, The North Face and Equinox are helping to make that happen by sponsoring $50,000 of the estimated $200,000 cost of the undertaking. The L.A.-based climber has spent recent months hiking 10,000-foot-plus peaks in California, climbing the StairMaster with up to a 100-lb. backpack at Equinox’s West Hollywood club, working out with a personal trainer and doing yoga. Chrome Hearts tapped him to model a $140,000 belt buckle shaped like the American flag in its new catalogue.
“These guys need our help and they need America to get behind them,” Medvetz said. “War doesn’t get as much press as it used to, but these guys are coming back with horrible injuries.”