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1st Space Battalion Soldiers hike Pikes Peak

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Col. Bryan P. Shrank, 1st Space Battalion commander, leads a team of Soldiers during the battalion's annual Pikes Peak Ascent hike Aug. 27 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Dottie White)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Col. Bryan P. Shrank, 1st Space Battalion commander, leads a team of Soldiers during the battalion's annual Pikes Peak Ascent hike Aug. 27 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Dottie White)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- More than 70 Soldiers from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's 1st Space Battalion came together before sunrise Aug. 27 for their annual Pikes Peak Ascent hike.

Pikes Peak is one of Colorado's fourteeners, or mountains that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level.  Starting from Manitou Springs trailhead, it is a 13-mile hike to the 14,110-foot summit.

"The purpose of the hike is to build esprit de corps and bond by tackling one the highest peaks in the country as a battalion," said Lt. Col. Bryan P. Shrank, 1st Space Battalion commander. "It gives us a chance to get away from the office and do something mentally and physically challenging, while experiencing one of the best features Colorado Springs has to offer."

Command Sgt. Maj. Scott J. Sutherland said the hike is also a morale and confidence builder for the Soldiers. 

Divided into teams of five or six members, the first group, which included the command team - Shrank and Sutherland, headed out just after 5 a.m. with other teams following in increments shortly thereafter.  

Staff Sgt. Brandon Kitchen, who was in the first group, said he thoroughly enjoyed the event and that it was even better than he expected.

"I have lived in Colorado nearly my entire life, and this was the first time that I have hiked to the summit," Kitchen said. "Being told I was hiking with the battalion commander and command sergeant major immediately placed a bit of anxiety upon my shoulders, but in reality they made fantastic team mates. Our team climbed the mountain at a nice steady pace and stayed as a group the entire time."

At the summit, there is a souvenir shop and snack bar. The command team was there to greet each team of climbers as they completed their hike.

"I wanted to ensure the Soldiers still see that we can lead from the front, said Sutherland. "Everyone really seemed to enjoy the hike, even the ones who were extremely challenged by the mountain. I was proud to see their accomplishment."

Shrank added, "Everyone had that tired smile of achievement and confidence on their face.  They didn't give up, even though it was difficult.  That's exactly what I wanted to see.

"The battalion has been doing this for a few years now, and I am proud to keep the tradition going, Shrank said. "I want to thank all of the Soldiers and staff who worked hard to make the climb such an overwhelming success."

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