Vail Businessman Scales Mount Denali to Benefit the Arizona Fisher House by Kimberly Crossland

What started as a personal goal quickly turned into an endeavor to raise money for the Arizona Fisher House, a non-profit organization that helps military families in their greatest time of need.

Fisher Houses around the country provide housing to military and veterans’ families at no cost. This housing enables families to be close together while their loved ones receive medical treatment from the VA. They provide suites with private bedrooms, bathrooms, and a common kitchen. Since inception, the Fisher House has saved an estimated $360 million in out of pocket costs for military families.

It was this cause that tugged at the heartstrings of Chris Cobb, Vail-based realtor and co-owner of The Cobb Team, as he trained for his mission – to climb Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America. When Cobb was preparing to climb Mount Denali, he knew he wanted to use this personal mission to do good for other people.  He grew up in a military family and served in the Air Force as a U2 Crew Chief working reconnaissance out of California and Asia. His dad, who also served in the Air Force, retired from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 2005 after 26 years of service and settled in Vail. Cobb instantly fell in love with the people, the small town ambiance, and the award-winning Vail School District and moved himself and his family here when he got out of the military as well. He hasn’t looked back since.

It was his family history of military service that led him to support the Arizona Fisher House as he planned to climb Mount Denali. “The majority of my family and friends have served in the military. I believe in the Fisher House’s mission because I know what it’s like to grow up in a military family. When you move every 3-4 years all you have is family. The Fisher House takes care of military families and keeps them close to their loved ones when they need them the most.”

Climbing hasn’t always been a hobby of his, but after climbing his “training mountain,” Mount Rainier, he found his passion – viewing the world from above the clouds.

In May, he started the trek that would take him 20,300 feet into the air by foot. He did much of his training in Arizona, so the elevation change alone was enough to add difficulty to an already overwhelming challenge few complete. Cobb and his team were surrounded by bottomless crevasses (Cobb fell in 7 crevasses throughout the trip) and battled through storms for the first two weeks of his climb traveling for the most part in complete whiteouts where visibility was limited to 100 feet or less and winds up to 50 mph. When they finally reached 14,200 feet on Mount Denali, he and his crew bunkered down and hoped for a break in the weather to make a push to the summit. They were on limited food and fuel so the crew only had a few days from that point to complete the climb. His mission of helping The Fisher House kept him going.

Many supporters pledged to pay a penny per foot, so Cobb knew the higher he climbed, the more money the Fisher House would receive. So far, he has received approximately $20,000 in donations for the Fisher House. His goal is $30,000 and to reach that aim, he is still accepting donations through his website:

On June 4, Cobb reached the summit of Denali and the highest peak in North America.  Only a few days later, he made it back down to the extraction point and home. “The real summit is the parking lot. Once you hit the top you’ve still got to get down safely. You’re dehydrated, freezing cold, malnourished, physically and mentally drained, and then you still have to get down. You are a shell of yourself balancing on cliffs, heel to toe with crampons on to get home, one slip or wrong move and there’s no coming back from that. After a tough 10-12 hour hike to the summit with fixed lines, we had to turn around and hike 8 hours down just to get back to high camp. Then we still had a few more days of hiking to get to the extraction point.”

The journey home was almost as tiring as the adventure itself. He went from being in minus 50-degree frost to deplaning at Tucson International Airport in 100-degree heat – a 150-degree difference in temperature within 48 hours. Now, his sole focus is on helping continue to bring awareness to the Fisher House.

“A lot of people have climbed mountains before me and will continue to climb mountains after me. I just climbed a mountain, but the Fisher House changes lives every day. What I did is just a small blip compared to what they do on a daily basis” Cobb says.

His next mission: Mount Everest, which he plans to climb in 2019. “I wanted to knock out the (mountain) in our backyard before taking on the biggest one in the world,” Cobb stated. But before he does, he wants to thank his supporters. He will soon hold a luncheon for everyone who donated where he’ll publicly cut the check for the Fisher House. The caterer of the luncheon is the chef, Robert Ramos, who prepared the meals for his climb (and who has also donated to the Fisher House in honor of Cobb’s mission).

To help Cobb reach his goal of $30,000, donate a set amount at

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Lucretia Free