See above for a documentary of these heroes’ ordeal.

A stiff wind blew from the southeast as Gerald Sandino and Reg de Susa, wheezing from extreme exertion, planted an American flag at the top of Mount Tropical Park. One of the most awe-inspiring and lethal climbs in Miami-Dade County, this precipice has defeated hundreds of mountaineers, their unmarked graves lining the treacherous path to its peak. Today, however, two heroes defied the odds and naysayers to complete a journey for which they began training years ago.

“It’s so beautiful up here!” exclaimed Gerald over a scratchy satellite phone. “I can see the 836!”

“My entire life has culminated in this moment,” he added pensively. “The colors are brighter, everything is sharper, focused. This is serenity.”

The two climbers began their journey with a larger group but, unfortunately, not all made it to the summit.

“We were four when we started,” explained Gerald, holding back tears. “But we had to cut Richard loose from a rope when he fell down a cliff. He was dragging us all down. It was us or him. There was no other way. There was no other way!”

He took a minute to compose himself.

“And we lost Charles in a crevasse,” he continued haltingly. “I’m sorry, it’s been a really tough climb,” he added, sobbing quietly into the phone.

Asked if they were worried about embarking on such a perilous trek during hurricane season, Gerald responded, “It was a really tough choice. Climbing season’s usually in the spring, when you’re less liable to get whiteout conditions. But we only had one shot at this, so we gave it a go despite the danger.”

Once they descend what’s been called “Miami’s Everest,” Gerald claimed they had even bigger plans for their next climb.

“This might sound a little crazy, but I think we’ll try the Key Biscayne bridge,” said Gerald. “We’ll need much heavier gear, of course. You’ll never come off that monster alive without oxygen tanks and a sherpa.”

Gerald and Reg began their climb at 9:17 AM EST and completed it at 9:19 AM EST.

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Andrew OtazoAndrew Otazo

'Miami Creation Myth' author Andrew Otazo has advised officials on Cuba policy, worked for the Mexican president, fired a tank, and ran with 30lbs of trash.

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