LORI RACKL, Chicago Sun-Times GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (AP) ― After three days climbing one of the highest mountains in North America, it was time to make the final push to the summit. Chicago-area mountaineers Tom Lillig and Steve Baskis shivered in the cold, thin air as they packed their gear, ate some oatmeal and filled their water bottles for a trek to the top of Iztaccihuatl, a 17,159-foot dormant volcano near Mexico City.

“It was 4 a.m., freezing cold outside, pitch black,” Lillig said.

“For me, it’s always pitch black,” chimed in Baskis, 24. The U.S. Army specialist was blinded by an explosive in 2008 while serving in Iraq. His extensive injuries led to a dozen operations on his eyes, head, back, arms and legs.

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