By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Col. Thomas Stowe Mullikin – a S.C.-based environmental attorney and deputy commander of the S.C. State Guard – reached the summit of Russia’s famous Mount Elbrus, Saturday.
At an altitude of 18,510 feet, Elbrus is Europe’s highest mountain. For perspective, that’s several thousand feet higher than any mountain in the U.S. lower 48.
Big mountains are not new to Mullikin, who plans to tackle Argentina’s famed Aconcagua, next year, which at 22,841 feet is the highest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. He climbed Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro (at 19,341 feet, the highest mountain in Africa) in 2010. An avid big-game
hunter, mountain climber and SCUBA diver, Mullikin has also chalked up multiple dives in five oceans (his most recent off Antarctica), and he has parachuted with members of several foreign airborne forces.
During the ascent up Elbrus, which lasted more than a week, Mullikin emailed, “We continue to be worried about the wind on and near the summit. The actual summit is a very narrow ridge that you carefully ascend and high winds make this approach very dangerous. All in all, day-six was cold and tiring but we got settled in for another cold night. We awoke early on day-seven for a climb to 15,000 feet. … With a full pack, it was a very demanding climb. But we made it and our small group seemed to be coming together closer and closer every day.”
Among the members of Mullikin’s expedition was his son, Thomas Mullikin, Jr.
Upon reaching the top of Europe, Mullikin and his son, dropped to their knees and prayed for the families of fallen S.C. National Guardsmen and all American warriors since 1775.
The senior Mullikin – founder and pres. of the Mullikin Law Firm and Global Eco Adventures – was recently named deputy commander of the all-volunteer S.C. State Guard. The S.C. State Guard is the state defense force component of the S.C. Military Dept. (SCMD). The SCMD includes the S.C. Army National Guard, the S.C. Air National Guard, the State Guard, the Emergency Management Division and other elements.
Last month, less than one week before departing for Russia, Mullikin received the Sir Winston S. Churchill award from the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team during ceremonies at the S.C. State House in Columbia. U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Bill Connor, former senior U.S. military advisor in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, presented the award.
– W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor who writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq and Lebanon. He directs the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team. He is the author of six books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications. Smith’s website is uswriter.com.