(CNN)Retired Staff Sgt. Chad Jukes, 2nd Lt. Harold Earls and Capt. Elyse Ping Medvigy reached the summit of Mount Everest on Tuesday.
Together, they climbed for nonprofit organization U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX) to shed light on the uphill battle that veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts face each day. They were the first group of active-duty and combat-wounded service members to make the summit.
Jukes, a single-leg amputee, was striving to be the first combat-wounded veteran to summit Everest. But he was surpassed last week by Marine Staff Sgt. Charlie Linville, whose right leg was amputated below the knee after an improvised explosive blast gravely injured his right foot in Afghanistan. Linville climbed with The Heroes Project, a veterans’ organization that leads expeditions with wounded veterans and active-duty service members. He tried to summit twice previously, in 2014 and 2015.
Linville and Jukes don’t know each other but were aware they were both eyeing the same goal due to media coverage. Both USX and The Heroes Project chose to summit Everest on the north side, which is less crowded but more technically challenging.
“The North Col head wall is a 1,000-feet-plus vertical ice wall with dangerous crevasses, steep pitches and dangerous séracs,” Earls said