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We Ask, They Answer: Climbing with a Head Injury

Margaux Mange // 4.9.14

"...then it will continue to control me then rest of my life"

Margaux Mange,
Past Participant

Series of orange climbing helmets hanging on a rope between two trees. Snow is on the ground.

Soldiers to Summits is taking you behind the scenes for a Q&A series, ‘We Ask, They Answer,’ with expedition participants and supporters. Our first is with Margaux Mange, who has pushed through injuries, treatments, surgeries and the subsequent impact of each as a part of her military career, to participate in and now lead a Soldiers to Summits expedition. Margaux participated in the South Pole Allied Challenge expedition, along with Prince Harry of the UK, and she describes her injuries in this send-off video: “USO”​

Q: Margaux, what is it like to push through the pain after you learn it’s altitude sickness, and will eventually subside, and make it to the pinnacle of an expedition?

A: The thin air and low oxygen at 14,000 ft and higher could be a “worst nightmare” for a person with traumatic brain injury, right? But, it’s no different from anyone else who is climbing that high. It’s all how you take it mentally. When I reached 15,000 ft climbing Cotopaxi last December, I started getting the hints of a panic attack, because my head began hurting and the pain was soon followed by a dull throb. But, then I told myself that if I let my head control me now on my biggest goal yet, then it will continue to control me then rest of my life. So, I accepted the pain as it was. I looked around me and noticed the lighting storms below the clouds that we were climbing above, and I put one foot in front of the other…towards my goal, the summit.