Apache team from Wattisham Airfield conquers trekking peak in Nepal
- Credit: Archant
A team of soldiers who operate the Apache attack helicopter at Wattisham Airfield has scaled one of highest trekking peaks in the world.
The 10 troops from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based near Needham Market, returned from Exercise Himalayan Eagle, an expedition to climb the 6,476m (21,247ft) high summit of Mera Peak in Nepal.
The 20-day expedition saw the soldiers trek from the remote town of Lukla to Mera Peak. The final ascent of the snow-capped summit took them across the Mera glacier and up a technical ice climb.
Airtrooper, Michael Brough, said: “The expedition was a brilliant experience, although the summit day was the hardest day of my life. We had to get up at 2am in -28C (-18.4F) temperatures to set off and it took four long and slow hours to get up to the summit.
“It was exhausting because of the altitude and you wanted to rest after taking two steps, but you couldn’t stop because it was so cold. The views from the top were breathtaking, and gave a real sense of achievement.”
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Airtrooper Brough, 21, had done little hillwalking before going to Nepal, with the expedition providing an opportunity to deepen his skills and experience.
He added: “My mountain experience has gone through the roof. I’ve completed my alpine foundation qualification, which is about the skills needed to go above the snowline and on to glaciers, and I am looking to go on and do mountain leader training.”
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The view from the top takes in five of the six highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest.
Captain Tom Stack organised the expedition as a different challenge for troops to mark the end of 4 Regt AAC’s involvement in Afghanistan.
He said: “Afghanistan has kept the regiment very busy since 2006 and this expedition has been a good opportunity for the guys to develop their skills in a different direction.
“Nepal was a really rewarding experience for all and I have seen everyone develop, both through the experience of high altitude mountaineering and the exposure to a different culture.”
Air and ground crews from Wattisham had served in Afghanistan since 2008.