SAN PEDRO ( —  Coast Guard Reserve Port Security Unit 311 has been training for months for their next conquest.

But it has nothing to do with guarding the coast.

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The group plans to climb Mt. Whitney not just because it’s there but because the climb can literally and figuratively help kids in need.

KCAl9’s Rachel Kim reports the group has been training hard. She was with the group Friday evening when they went through some of  their paces.

“Pump those legs, Granados!”

Kim says the group is largely made up of members of law enforcement.

They are all aware they are about to climb the highest mountain in the lower 48.

“Brian Putnam, homicide investigator, LAPD.”
“Elizabeth Granados, Santa Ana Police Dept.”
“Anthony Araujo, student, UCLA.”
“I’m Mike Clouse, CHP officer, Riverside.”
“Drew Klingberg, active duty Coast Guard.”
“Jeremy Cook, Amtrak Police Dept, police officer.”
“Brian Churchill, LAPD, I’m a police sergeant.”

“I’m excited, I’m very nervous about the elevation, I mean 14, 500 feet. It’s quite up there.” said Granados.

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“I love it, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Churchill.

This group is one of many who climb some of America’s most challenging peaks — all to help the mission of the Big City Mountaineers. They organize expeditions where at-risk youth face the challenges of the wilderness alongside their adult mentors to gain critical life skills.

“What Big City Mountaineers does is it shows them there is something else and it teaches them some very positive skills and puts them with positive people on a one-to-one ratio.” Churchill says.

In the pristine wilderness, the program helps under-served youth realize their potential, gets them to stay in school and stay away from a life of crime.

“As an officer, I see the young teens that are out on the streets. I may never meet the kids that will be taken on these expeditions with the money that we raise as a unit, but it’s just a seed that’s been planted,” said Granados.

So with a few days left before the big hike, this group will be packing and bracing for an uphill challenge.

“I think our lungs are going to feel it, our legs are going to feel it, but as a team, it’s a team effort,” said Granados.

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The Coast Guard Reserve Unit had a goal of raising $34,800 and are just under $28,000 at this writing. If you’d like to help support the charity, click here for more information.