I made it!

Via the North Face.

Without. Oxygen.

This is the sixth in a series posts dispatched from the slopes of Mt. Everest


I just returned to Everest Base Camp (BC) after the most challenging 8 days of my life. I am unshaven, extremely dirty, feeling the initial effects of frostbite, starving and physically and mentally exhausted (See Photo “Return to Everest BC”)… but at 4:19 AM on Sunday May 23rd, after a 10 hour climb from Camp 3 (See Photo “Hike to Camp 3”), Kaji and I watched the sun rise over Tibet from the summit of Mt. Everest. 

Words can not convey the beauty of that particular sunrise or the feeling of accomplishment and joy of having attained the summit with my teammate, Kaji. I am thankful that I prepared properly and that we had (and made the most of) our opportunity for success.

Heck, I’m so hungry I’m willing to eat broiled Yak… or raw… (See Photo: “Kap eats Yak”)

Due to a camera malfunction on the summit (read “my $300 camera froze as soon as I pulled it from my down suit), I have to wait for Kaji to have his summit photos developed (read “Kaji’s circa 1980 camera that cost $12 worked well”) before sharing. However, all photos and a recap of the final 8 days of climbing will be part of my corporate presentation on “Leadership and Overcoming Adversity” and will also be made available to all 2010- 2011 Program clients. 

I can not tell you how much I appreciate all of your support throughout this journey and Bryant, The Program Staff and I look forward to seeing and working with all of you in the upcoming year. 



“You never know what is ‘enough,’ until you know what is more than enough” – William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Ironman.com explains the why behind Eric’s grueling climbs and competetions:

“My mother always told me if you want to change something,” he says, “then get yourself to the position where you can change it.”

There will be one constant for Kapitulik. He’ll continue racing Ironman triathlons, partially because The Few, The Proud . . . they like testing themselves physically. Once a Marine, always a Marine, Kapitulik will enter the Marine Corps Reserves upon being discharged. But Kapitulik’s Ironman dedication goes far deeper than any personal challenge.

He must preserve the memories of those seven military men who died under his command in a frightening helicopter crash off San Diego on Dec. 9, 1999. Kapitulik and 10 others were the lucky ones. They survived the crash. Between them, the seven men who died left behind six children. Since the accident, Kapitulik has raced four Ironman races, each time raising money toward a college education fund for the six youths.

“This has become his mission,” says Kapitulik’s long-time girlfriend, Melissa Marinaccio. “His top priority is to make sure those families are taken care of, never lonely and never wanting for things. He talks about them just about every day.” 


It was a reconnaissance-training mission, the final evaluation check-off before Kapitulik and his command departed a month later for the Persian Gulf. Marines and Navy SEALs were to descend a rope, land aboard a ship and simulate a takeover. Thirty seconds before the helicopter was to begin hovering over the ship, Kapitulik, as he always did, glanced outside a window, gauging the helicopter’s arrival.

“It seemed like the ship was coming into view pretty fast,” he says.

The opening where the men were to repel onto the ship, which was already open, is called the “hell hole.” Later, some of the surviving Marines said they sensed the helicopter was flying lower than usual. “The down force of the blades was causing water to spray up into the helicopter,” Kapitulik says.

Still, he didn’t think disaster loomed. He had safely flown similar missions at least 15 times.

“You just have faith nothing’s going to happen,” he says.

Seconds later, the helicopter crashed into the side of the ship’s steel netting. The 18 men inside the helicopter were thrown forward. When the pilot applied power to the engines, trying to lift the chopper, the helicopter spun round and round like a fan because the wheels were stuck in the ship’s steel netting. More

Fifth Dispatch – Preparing for the Final Assault

Fourth Dispatch – Toughness is a Relative Term

Third Dispatch – Nec Aspera Terrent

Second Dispatach – The Avalanche

First Dispatch – “One More!”

Posted by Eric Kapitulik in Marine Corps, Travel

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  • Tom Ripley

    Lot’s of people “know” Kap. His physical accomplishments are stuff of legend and he performs at a level we all wish to obtain. He is a true force, and one of my life long heroes.

    In my humble opinion, the difference maker and the true secret of Eric’s success in this accomplishment and the others before, is discipline. Eric takes discipline to a new level. In his actions, his way of life, even in the words he chooses. It is discipline that gets him up to train, and discipline that enables him to take the next step. Eric often tells the story that his bride Melissa will state “I’m starving [or freezing, etc.]”. With the smile of a teammate he will always reply “Really, are you really starving or are you just hungry?”

    Kap is a unique breed. A person that has dedicated himself to the religion of discipline. He, like the other heroes of my life – John Ripley, Doug Zembiec, Don Zembiec – are men of principle. They have a set of core beliefs that they refuse to modify regardless of the pressure.

    Great job Kap and Semper Fi.

  • Byron

    BZ, Kap. Must have been a helluva view up there on top of the world.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    One hell of an accomplishment. Semper Fidelis. The widows of your lost Marines know the meaning of that two-word Latin motto.

  • ASM, American

    Eric, holy mother of God. Awesome! I was sitting in a room with my team leaders in Hawaii BSing – I came across this post and read it to them. Incredible man. We loved it! From the men of 2d Plt, Force Recon Co, I MEF: Never above you, never beneath you, always beside you…

    As an aside, and a funny point on the virtue of the Naval Academy, God, Country and Corps…I’m a Marine Corps officer now because of you – and then had the good fortune of having CD as my platoon sergeant when I was at Recon Battalion…and Scott Archer just put me through a shooting package last year…small world.

    Stay safe Kap, and death to the enemy…


  • Bill the Goat

    Kap is one of Professor Fleming’s “Set asides”. He arrived at NAPS carrying a lacrosse stick and has never looked back.

    Perhaps we need more “set asides” rather than fewer.


  • Amy Shigo

    Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment!

  • Congratulations Eric!
    A few years ago I watched you compete against my friend Dave Shuman (PJ team Speedy Mail) during the Armed Forces Eco Challenge a few years ago when you were sick and gutting your way through it. I’m very happy for you and proud of your accomplishment. You’re living John 15:13 everyday. You’ve come a long way since Mountain Leaders Course.

    Congrats again Eric and Semper Fi Marine.

    Mitchell Aschinger

  • Grandle Starling

    Hello Eric…Thank God, I had the pleasure of reading this…And of course, thanking him that I still have the presence of finding. We, Charlottle and I think of you often…
    Just recently, MGySgt Padilla spoke of you and like us, is highly impressed with your accomplishments…

    Take Care,

    Grandle/Charlotte Starling

  • Myra L. Davenport

    Eric, AKA Captain America! Hola’ old Marine Corps friend from the 15th Meu! It is no surprise that you’ve taken such an incredible challenge! Congrats! I’ve always known you’ve lived up to that name, “Captain America” I am totally inspired and have much respect for what you do and what you’ve done for yourself and for our fallen comrades. I hope this blog finds you well.

    Semper Fi

    Myra L. Davenport served with you as a SGT. V 15th Meu USS Bonhomme Richard 2000

  • Amazing man, how people can go to such places.