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
2006: The British Army West Ridge Expedition Dispatches
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