Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Bari, currently deployed with 34th ID to Basra, Iraq, plans to assault multiple mountains upon his return to the United States sometime in the first quarter of calendar year 2010. First, maybe Pikes Peak in Colorado. Then, maybe Mount McKinley in Alaska. Then, maybe Mount Everest in Nepal?
Bari, a medic in the Minnesota National Guard, recently told an Army reporter that he'd gotten the rock-climbing-bug during some Duluth-area climbs in fall 2008. He'd already moved on to parts of the Appalachian Trail before his unit was deployed.
During pre-deployment training at Fort Lewis, Wash., he parlayed a 4-day pass into an assault on nearby Mount Rainier.
"There was some times during the two months we were at Fort Lewis when I thought, 'well, I wonder if I start getting up there - it'll be cold and the oxygen is a little bit less and maybe I have no idea what I'm getting myself into, and I'll hate it - and I'll change my mind,'" he says. "But that didn't happen. I knew that the more I was climbing the more I enjoyed it."
The Minnesota medic is keeping his focus during his OIF deployment. In the relatively flat confines of Contingency Operating Base (COB) Basra, the will-be climber and frequent marathoner (he thinks he's run about 20) is logging about 35-45 miles a week.
"Your leg strength: that's the power that's going to get you up the mountain," he said.