Monday, November 21, 2016

How USX climbed to the Summit of Mt. Everest, set records, and stayed connected at 29,000 feet by leveraging Inmarsat Government

21 November 2016

On May 24, 2016, the USX Team successfully journeyed to the summit of Mt. Everest to raise awareness for our Nation's veterans coping with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the struggle of suicidal ideations. We were able to stay connected with our supporters and media outlets across the world through the use of Inmarsat's Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and satellite phone services.
By connecting our PCs, tablets, and smartphones to the BGAN terminal, we could surf the internet, check emails, post photos, update Facebook status, and conduct phone and video interviews with the media. It also allowed us to stay in touch with our social media team and gain publicity for PTSD and the challenges veterans face after returning home. 
Inmarsat Government enabled us to connect with our followers, reporters and sponsors, and keep them updated on this incredible journey as it unfolded in front of us. Without the BGAN terminal, we would have had to wait until after-the-fact to share our amazing stories and pictures. Tommy Ferguson, our communications director, was able to remain in contact with operations back home and provide critical information related to the mission status.  
The portable satellite phone allowed us to communicate at length with our publicist, Amy Summers of Pitch Publicity and thanks to her efforts we were able to connect with over 3 billion viewers through news and social media outlets such as Good Morning America, ABC News, CNN, and Facebook. We were able to express that PTSD is still an all too common issue with our returning veterans and we need to do more. Chad Jukes marine buddy and fellow veteran committed suicide while Chad was climbing Mt. Everest, and this provided evidence to how important this mission is and that it affects not just the veteran, but their friends and family as well. 
Inmarsat Government provided this unique capability to share in real-time our challenges and triumphs as setbacks were overcome and milestones were reached. We were able to talk with our families and loved ones back home, which allowed us to comfort them while they worried endlessly for our safety. On May 8th we even managed to call our mothers and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day from the other side of the world, on the edge of the tallest mountain in the world. 
Thank you Inmarsat Government for your commitment to keeping us connected through our journey.

Tingri, Tibet. 13 May 2016. USX Communications Director, Tommy Ferguson, pictured in a Tibetan rice field using the BGAN satellite system to send pictures back home to their social media team in the United States. 

Everest Basecamp, Tibet. 24 April 2016. USX cofounder Harold Earls, pictured setting up the BGAN unit.

Monday, March 28, 2016

27 March 2016Colorado Springs, Colorado38.841 N, 104.811 E, 6,001 FT ASL      


Thank you for visiting ours site, but more importantly, thank you for caring.  US Expeditions and Explorations (USX) was founded with one thing in mind - Empowering Veterans to Inspire others through Adventure and Exploration.  For hundreds of years service-members and Veterans have been at the forefront of exploration and adventure.  We aim to continue that tradition through the spirit on the modern American warrior.  Your viewing of this page is indicative of your interest in continuing or supporting our endeavor.  For that, we thank you.  

USX is in the midst of launching a historic expedition.  Its our first.  Its bold and audacious and its exactly the type of endeavor we’re aspiring to take into the future.  USX is sending a team of Soldiers - past and present - to Mount Everest.  Yes, we know, Mount Everest has been climbed thousands of times and in hundreds of different manners, but what we’re doing is different.  Never has there been a combat wounded American Soldier on top of the world’s highest peak.  And never has there been a team comprised entirely of American Soldiers to set their sites on the roof of the world.  We aim to change that.  More important than “being the first,” we aim to make a lasting difference in the lives of Veterans by raising money and awareness for Veterans Mental Health.  

The statistics are staggering and devastating.  Hundreds of Veterans take their own lives each month and thousands more struggle with their mental health everyday.  While climbing to the top of the world will not solve the problem we know that our efforts will bring attention to an issue that is long overdue in being permanently addressed. We will make a difference.  

Why do this?  Why involve Veterans with adventure and exploration?  Two reasons.  First, history. The military and the world’s Veterans have always been involved with adventure and exploration.  The earliest Everest expeditions involved WWI Veteran George Mallory, an Artillery officer in the British Army.  He led the first reconnaissance and two subsequent attempts at the summit.  His attempts led way to Everest’s first ascent in 1953 led by British Army Colonel, John Hunt, selected for his leadership skills in adverse environments and liking to challenging missions. Dating further back, and looking at our own country’s history, CPT Meriwether Lewis and LT William Clark set off on the Corps of Discovery mission to map and explore the American West.  Their accomplishments are renowned nationwide.  Even an American president, Teddy Roosevelt, sought out adventure and exploration.  After his days as commander of his famous regiment of Roughriders and his two presidencies and even after taking bullet to the chest while campaigning for his third term as president, he decided to set out on a perilous journey to map the final major tributary to the Amazon.  The military and its Veterans are natural selections choice for exploration and adventure.  

The second reason is not as obvious, but its still apparent - the “intangibles.”  Many people have skills and experience.  Many people have drive and ambition.  But very few have the dedication, the sense of duty and the selfless sacrifice to commitment to an endeavor larger than themselves.  Some people pursuit adventure for passion, others for fame and money.  A service-member, a Veteran, pursuits adventure for the sake of a greater cause, and does so willingly and without reservation.

The future is bright.  Our mission is bold.  And Everest is high.  But why waist time with goals that are not bright, bold and high?  USX will not.  So please, follow us, climb with us, support us and take part in something special. 
 Empower Veterans.  Inspire Others.  


- USX Leadership

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Two Things More Similar

22 April 2015
Medicine Park, Oklahoma
1,001 Feet Elevation

Below is an edited excerpt of a piece I wrote addressing the similarities between the military and mountaineering.  The commonalities of the two may surprise you. 

"No Two Things More Similar: The Military and Mountaineering."

I’m leading a team of eight Soldiers on an expedition to Mount McKinley.  We’re at 17,200 feet.  High Camp.  For the last eight hours we have labored our way up the mountain battling steep, icy slopes, exposed, narrow ridge lines, voracious winds and thin air.  Hazards are everywhere.  Most of us are exhausted.  Some of us have splitting headaches.  All of us want to rest, but we can’t.  Our work is not done for the day.  We’re just getting started…  

I’m leading a platoon of Soldiers in Afghanistan.  We’re on a dismounted patrol near the Pakistan border.  Hostile territory.  For the last twelve hours we have marched our way through mountains battling rocky slopes, relentless heat, and heavy gear.  Hazards are everywhere.  Most of us are exhausted.  Some of us are dehydrated.  All of us want to rest, but we can’t.  Our work is not done for the day.  We’re just getting started…  

We move into priorities of work.  We need to secure our campsite, our patrol base.  We start fortifying our position by building barriers to keep unwelcome things out.  Some of us take out shovels and start digging, others begin removing important items from their packs.   Leaders meet in the middle somewhere.  They discuss the operation.  We’re dehydrated.  We need water.  We start up a stove.  We need to eat.  The wind picks up.  We’re cold.  We put on more clothes to stay warm, but struggle to layer properly.  Our gear gets in the way.  The water comes to a boil.  We purify it.  We see movement in the distance.  What was that?  It starts snowing.  Its getting dark.  Where’s my headlamp?  Our feet are wet.  We need to change socks.  Some of us start dozing off to sleep.  We’re tired.  We need rest.  Our feet are wet.  Boots come off.  Where are my dry socks?  Where are my damn socks?  “Here, drink some of this.”  Warm water, no, Gatorade!  “Hey, where are we?”  We’re very tired.  Who’s making dinner?  Some of us fall asleep.  “Wake up!”  Don’t you know we’re exhausted?  Too tired to eat.  Some of us anxiously stir about.  They cannot sleep.  Worry overcomes them.  What’s out there?  What lies ahead?  What happens tomorrow?  What was that noise?  This place is scary.  I’m glad I have my team with me…

I have had ample time to ponder the similarities between the military and mountaineering, but perhaps there’s no better way to prove their likeness than comparing stories.  Written above are two accounts of my mountaineering and military experience.  Aside from the time and place and a few other details, both accounts play out the same way.  Detailed planning led to a long training process which prompted travel to a foreign, unfamiliar land.  Hard work, followed by more hard work brought us to hazards.  We mitigate hazards.  We carry heavy packs.  There’s uncertainty.  Doubt.  Hardship.  Teamwork.  Brotherhood.  A team.  The team! Without the team none of this is possible.  Survival, perhaps, is not possible.  We struggle, but we survive.    

Both of these stories have many things in common, but one thing is most similar:  The team.  Both stories revolve around a well bonded, well maintained, well equipped and artfully synchronized group of people able to adapt, overcome, and achieve in the face of adversity.  Injuries, failures, broken equipment, poor communication and at times, death, are all possibilities or likelihoods.  But we soldier on.  We climb on.  We’re Brother’s in Arms and we share the Brotherhood of the Rope.  They’re different terms, yet still the same.  And that is why I believe mountaineering comes so natural to service-members.  Some technical skills change, equipment may differ, but at the very core the concept remains the same - plan, prepare, reduce risk, overcome adversity, work together, work hard, persevere and at times, get lucky until ultimately, the objective is reached.  

I’m leading a team of soldiers - past, present and future - up Mount Everest.  We’ll attempt to reach new altitudes, higher than any soldier has been before.  We’ll labor our way first to the mountain - the objective.  We’ll establish a base camp - a patrol base.  Then we’ll climb the mountain - assault the objective.  Along the way we’ll battle hot and humid conditions at lower altitudes then cold, dry, windy conditions up high.  Hazards are everywhere.  We’ll be tired.  We’ll be hungry.  We’ll have headaches and we’ll be dehydrated.  We’ll want to rest and put off our work until later when we’re feeling better, but we won’t.  We’ll think back on our times in the army - in Afghanistan, in Iraq, during long training events and Ranger School.  We’ll think of the Brothers and Sisters that worked hard for us when we needed help.  And we’ll think of the people we worked hard for when they needed our help.  We might not be expert mountaineers, but we’re experts in many other things that will equip us well when on the receiving end of a difficult mission - in pursuit of a lofty objective.  We know how to make team, lead a team, be a part of team.  We’re Brothers and Sisters in Arms and we’re Brothers and Sisters of the Rope.  We’re the US Army Everest Expedition.  And we climb to “Just Save One.”

From an edited excerpt of: 
“No Two Things More Similar: The Military and Mountaineering” 
By Captain Matthew Hickey

Follow the teams progress, get the latest updates, and donate to the cause at  

and at

Friday, March 6, 2015

It Starts With A dream...

06 March 2015
Medicine Park, Oklahoma
1,001 Feet ASL

I read an article today. "The Mount Everest climbing season has begun," it read. I perked up a bit. It is that time of year, I thought to myself. Mountaineers are arriving at Kathmandu International Airport. Nervous. Anxious to get climbing. Smog residing around them obscuring a view of the massive Himalayan peaks looming in the distance. Mount Everest is near here - a short flight to the village of Lukla and a week's trek gets one to base camp. From there, the summit sits about 11,000 feet above. That distance, both horizontally and vertically, takes about fifty days to cover. If a mountaineer is fit, able, organized and lucky he might make it all the way, but many will not. That's mountaineering. That's the nature of an expedition. No matter how much preparation, events are still unpredictable. No matter how much physical training, the thin air of the death zone still has a say. In the coming months, the hopes and dreams of these climbers will manifest themselves on the slopes of the world's highest peak. And I'll have a keen eye set on the events that transpire.

A year from now I'll step off an airplane onto that same tarmac. Nervous. Anxious to get moving. Smog will obscure my view of the mountains. A few days of hustle and bustle in cramped and chaotic Kathmandu will give way to a flight to Lukla. From here, in the Himalayan foothills, I'll begin the trek to Everest Base Camp passing through Namche Bazaar and other small Nepalese villages nestled between steep crumbling slopes and roaring rivers. Eventually, after miles of hiking, I’ll reach an altitude just below 18,000 feet. I’m in the famed Khumbu Region of Nepal that is synonymous with Mount Everest and the Sherpa people. This is Everest Base Camp. The trek will have ended, but the climb has just begun. A series of acclimatization trips and load hauling up and down the mountain eventually makes way for a shot at the summit. At least I hope so. But before any of that becomes reality, many events must occur.


Before every expedition becomes reality, it starts as a dream - lofty, inspiring, motivational, but unsupported. That dream becomes an idea when it is shared with others.

"Captain Hickey, I have an idea. Let's put together the first team of army soldiers and veterans to climb Mount Everest," Harold said to me over the phone.

I had never met Harold, nor spoken to him. Harold is a senior-year Cadet at West Point. An athlete. A leader. And a motivated young army officer not afraid of challenges, looking to make a difference in the world.

I could hear the enthusiasm and desire in his voice, "I know we can make this happen," he continued.

Having led or been a part of many expeditions, I know the difficulties associated with them. Acquiring gear, organizing equipment, funding, fundraising, and training all have to happen and that’s before an expedition even begins. I've never been to Everest, but I have spent a lot of time with those who have. "Everest is a headache, a bureaucratic nightmare, and physical torture," they'd say to me, "but if you can pull it off and for the right reasons, it'll be one of the best things you do in your life."

I should have said, "No, Harold, this sort of thing cannot happen, it’s just...too hard." But what kind of excuse is that? It’s too hard? I've wanted to climb Everest ever since I began mountaineering as a teenager. I've wanted to plant my ice axe on top of the world and know that I'd achieved something great, completed the near impossible and overcome thousands of vertical feet worth of obstacles on the mountain and off. Now Harold was presenting me with an opportunity - a small glimmer of an opportunity, but an opportunity none-the-less and I was about to say no because it was too hard.

"Let's do it," I said without hesitation. "If any group of people can pull off something like this, Harold, it’s the community we belong to - the army, West Point, athletes. We accomplish hard things, what’s one more?”


Over time, our idea became a concept. We put together a support team with people dedicated to funding, promotions, IT, legal, expedition planning, physical training, etc. The ball started to roll. The concept lent its way to the next phase: support - financially, logistically, medically and the like. We received phone calls from people, companies, corporations and non-profits all wanting to be part of the endeavor and this was all before we officially launched our campaign!


This brings us to today.  The ball is rolling faster. The pieces are coming together. What once was a dream is slowly turning to reality, but not quite yet.

There is much more to do before our dream is truly realized. Harold and I have created a not-for-profit organization called US Expeditions and Explorations to serve as the foundation for this sort of dream. Our vision, "to inspire service-members - past, present and future - to challenge themselves or a small team with a lofty, focused endeavor in the field of exploration, philanthropy or science to promote healthy and inspirational lifestyles.”

Our Mount Everest Expedition will kick this off. We have collaborated with other non-profit organizations to raise funds and awareness for the cause of the continued mental health of Veterans.

A year from now I hope to be leading a team of soldiers - past, present and future - to the summit of Mount Everest. In doing so, we'll attempt to become the first team of US Soldiers to reach the summit of the world and furthermore we'll be contributing to a number of great veteran organizations and causes.

This is the first of many posts I will publish as our journey transpires.

Stay tuned.

Aim high, climb higher!


Matt Hickey
Captain, US Army
Expedition Leader