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  Everest 2006: British West Ridge Expedition: ARMY ON EVEREST TEAM NOW AT CAMP THREE


Jude Humphries

The Army on Everest expedition’s Main Team have now arrived at Camp 3 on the French Spur.  After some bad weather which saw snowfalls of several metres the weather cleared allowing the teams to move up to Camp 3 from where, at 7300m they are within 1548m of the summit.  If successful in their attempt they will place the first ever British climber on top of Everest via the perilous West Ridge.  

The expedition is one of the Army’s toughest ever physical exercises and tests the training, organisational skills and endurance that the British Army is famed for.  To date the teams have established Camps 1, 2 and 3.  

Camp 3 is on the French Spur, one of the most hazardous and steep parts of the climb.   This is where the lead teams will be constantly analysing the avalanche risk on each slope they cross.  This analysis will include monitoring the past weather as well as cutting snow profiles in the slopes to identify bonding between the layers.  From here it will take around a day and a half to return to Tilman’s Camp, depending on the weather.  However, team members will be constantly shuttling back and forth in order to rest at Tilman’s.  On average, every team member will return to Tilman’s to get one day’s rest for every four - five days working on the mountain.   After Camp 3 the next challenge is Camp 4, travelling along the West Ridge itself to 7,600m, the highest the team will go without oxygen.

Dave Bunting expedition leader says “We’re now at Camp 3 which means we’ve cracked the French Spur. The next step for us is a lot less technical, so we’re now in a brilliant position. I’m really confident about the rest of the climb. Looking at the altitude and the health and strength of the guys – I think we’re on for it”

There are three teams making up the expedition, all tackling separate peaks. The Junior Team of 16-17 year olds has now summited two 5,000m peaks and is back in the UK. The Development Team of intermediate climbers have summited, the impressive 7045m Lhakpa Ri peak.  What remains is for the Main Team to make British history by summiting the 8848m Mount Everest itself.

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.  The expedition is unique in that three separate teams will climb three separate peaks in and around Mount Everest.  As one of the Army’s most extreme adventurous training activities, the expedition will test and improve physical endurance, mental strength, logistical skills, team building and performance under pressure.

Planning for the attempt began in 2003 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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