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  Everest 2006: British West Ridge Expedition: ARMY’S EVEREST JUNIOR TEAM ARRIVE AT BASE CAMP


Jude Humphries

The Junior Team of the Army’s Everest West Ridge Expedition today arrived at Base Camp to set off on their climb of the 6250m Island Peak in Nepal.  The team are part of the Army’s Everest West Ridge Expedition that is planning to put the first Briton on Everest via the treacherous West Ridge.  

The team of eight 16 and 17 year old junior soldiers left the UK on 1 April and arrived at their start point in Lukla.   Only six months ago they were new recruits to the Army, today they set off on the challenge of a lifetime.  They have already completed a gruelling trek from the Nepalese village of Kukla to Gorak Shep from where they climbed the 5545m view point of Kala Pattar.  

This was just the preparation and they are now poised to take on Island Peak itself.  It is snowing heavily and they will make their ascent when the weather breaks.  From Base Camp they will scramble across an open gully before taking the right hand ridge and onto the glacier they will need to climb to reach the summit.  The 300ft headwall leading to the summit ridge is the most difficult part of the climb and will test the strength of everyone involved.  Once at the summit the team will enjoy some spectacular views with Lhotse (8501m) and Lhotse Shar (8383m) to the north and Makalu (8475m) to the east.

Renamed Imja Tse, Island Peak was first climbed in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.  The mountain is still a popular choice for climbers who are preparing for greater things and is the perfect training ground for young mountaineers to develop their skills whilst in the shadow of Everest.

“This is simply one of the most amazing opportunities a young person can have in their lives” says Junior Team Leader, Major Graham Carter. “Six months ago these young soldiers had only just joined the Army. Now they are following in the footsteps of some of the world’s most famous mountaineers.  The experiences they will have the skills they will gain are second to none.  It is concrete proof of the real exciting benefits of a career in the Army.”

Zak Dunnings, Junior Team member said “Arriving at Base Camp has been incredible.  We now know that we are at the final stage of the expedition and this is an immense feeling, particularly knowing that we are able to summit in a few days.”

The Junior Team expedition will develop and test key qualities for an Army career – physical endurance, mental strength, logistical skills, team building and performance under pressure.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one only the Army can offer.  

The attempt is timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first Army Mountaineering Association’s summit of Everest and will test Army planning, preparation, training and team skills to the limit.  It was conceived by Expedition Leader Warrant Officer Class 2 Dave Bunting in 2003 and planning and training has been ongoing since then. To ensure success and safety the team have undergone extensive physical and psychological testing as well as mountain training, ice climbing, first aid, nutrition and education about the environmental and cultural impact of the climb

Everest 2006: The British Army West Ridge Expedition Dispatches

 

 

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