Matt Dawson at the summit of Denali.

On to the next one! Matt Dawson, founder of the nonprofit organization Dawson’s Peak, has completed four phases out of five on his roadmap for Project Seven for Soldiers, an attempt to set multiple world records in multiple extreme activities. 

“The goal of Project Seven for Soldiers is to exemplify our motto of ‘Earn, Give, Live your life,” said Dawson. “We are also bringing awareness and attempting to raise $1 million for Hope For The Warriors and the Gary Sinise Foundation.”

In April 2021, Dawson stepped off on phase one of this journey, where he tackled the first portion of the Explorers Grand Slam. The Explorers Grand Slam consists of climbing the highest peaks on each of the seven continents (known as the Seven Summits) as well as skiing to the North and South Poles. Through heavy snow, gusting winds, and rough terrain, Dawson completed his all seven climbs, including: Mt. Everest, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, Denali, Mt. Vinson, Aconcagua and Mt. Kosciuszko.

“We are now 10/10 on our start of Project Seven for Soldiers,” said Dawson. “During times like this, you can’t let your mind get too far ahead. You simply have to focus on the next step and next breath. It can be frustrating at points, but there is no sense in trying to fight it.” 

After taking only a few months to recover, Dawson kicked off phase three on November 16, 2021, where he set off to cross the Mojave Desert, including the treacherous Death Valley. This expedition was not for the faint of heart as Dawson battled high temperatures, sandstorms, and even injuries as he pushed forward. In just six days and 23 hours, Dawson, accompanied by only his 220 pounds of gear, walked 213 miles from Beatty, Nevada, to Victorville, California. Finishing on November 22, 2021, this voyage is believed to be the first solo and unsupported crossing of the Mojave Desert and Death Valley.

Matt Dawson crossing the Mojave Desert.

“One of the biggest challenges of extended physical efforts is remaining ‘locked in’ mentally.” said Dawson. “Regardless of your physical state or location, you can’t let your guard down for a second. That said, it’s always good to take a moment to appreciate your opportunities and experiences. Through all the pain and effort, I was equally conscious to appreciate how fortunate I was to have the ability to pursue this endeavor.” 

From February – March 2022, Dawson and his partner Patrick Favre successfully completed a two-man row crossing of the Atlantic from the Canary Island to the French West Indies. Following departure, Dawson and Favre rowed in shifts 24 hours each day; covering 3,100 statue miles in 53 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes. During this time, Dawson rowed 639 hours. Neither man missed a single shift during the trip.

In March 2023, Dawson will attempt a new record-breaking crossing of the Mojave Desert that will cover over 360 miles. This attempt will solo and unsupported (by outside individuals). The crossing will take approximately 13 days. Carrying all necessary supplies and navigational equipment, Dawson’s cart will weight approximately 200lbs to begin.

Next, you’ll find Dawson on the final portion of phase five, where he will attempt to complete the Explorers Grand Slam by skiing to the North Pole. Standing between him and the pole will be many miles of frozen ice, difficult to navigate ice features called “pressure ridges”, pockets of open (nearly freezing) water, sub-zero temperatures and the potentially, occasional polar bear. Originally planned for April 2022, but delayed due to COVID and the Ukraine/Russia conflict, the expedition is expected to be completed by mid-April 2023.

“Matt’s dedication to this remarkable endeavor is inspiring, and his commitment to raising support for the military community is inspiring,” said Robin Kelleher, Hope For The Warriors Co-founder and CEO. “He has taken the idea of donating time, talent and treasure to incredible heights … literally. We are grateful for his passion in highlighting the sacrifice and resiliency of our country’s warriors.”

In May 2023, Dawson will join forces with Johnny Campbell (Off-Road Hall of Fame member and “Mr. Baja 1,000”) to lead a small group of veterans and celebrities on a motorcycle ride across the Mojave Desert. This event will be produced by Monster Energy and 5.11 Tactical.

Join Hope For The Warriors in continuing to cheer on Dawson and keep up with his progress by following along on the Project Seven for Soldiers webpage and the Dawson’s Peak Instagram. All donations are welcomed at www.dawsonspeak.org; Donations can also be made by texting “DAWSON” to 53-555. 100% of net proceeds will benefit Hope For The Warriors and Gary Sinise Foundation.