Soldiers to take on Everest

TWO East Anglian soldiers hoping to become the first Britons to climb Everest by the treacherous West Ridge set off from the UK last nighton the first step of their challenge.

By Danielle Nuttall

TWO East Anglian soldiers hoping to become the first Britons to climb Everest by the treacherous West Ridge set off from the UK last nighton the first step of their challenge.

Parachute Regiment Staff Sergeant Guy Homan, from Ipswich, and Corporal Paul “Brush” McComb, who is based in Colchester with the Parachute Regiment, are among a group of 19 men and two women tackling the world's highest mountain, 29,028ft (8,848m) above sea level.

Only 19 people have managed to conquer the West Ridge route - with no Britons scaling the peak.


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The team - all experienced high-altitude climbers - will be the first to approach the remote West Ridge in 10 years. The climbers have been training for the ascent since 2003.

Two British parties have previously tried and failed to conquer it, in the 80s and 90s, surrendering within 350m of the summit.

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Three teams of Army climbers were flying out from Heathrow last night, ready to set up base camp in the foothills of the Himalayas in the coming days.

They are flying to Kathmandu from where they will move through Tibet to a base camp on the Rombuk Glacier to begin the six-to-eight-week climb.

They will then establish five camps as they move up the mountain before attempting their final bid to reach the summit some time in May.

Despite three years of planning, the climbers' fate will be in the hands of the weather as they wait for the 170mph “jet stream” which buffets the mountain top to lift.

The stream is broken only during a two-week window, in late May or early June, which will allow two climbers to make a dash for the summit.

“We want to make British history,” said Warrant Officer Dave Bunting, a veteran of nine Himalayan expeditions with more than 20 years' Army service.

“To make it would be absolutely overwhelming, and to share it with this team would be amazing.

“There may be only a few to reach the summit, but the success will be due to all the team and the people who have supported them.”

The peak team's only woman, Warrant Officer Jude Humphries, a 37-year-old physical training instructor, said the team would be waiting for three days of perfect conditions to make the final 1,000m (3,281ft) ascent to the summit.

The main team of 21 will be accompanied to Kathmandu and their base camp by the development team, a group of 15 intermediate-level mountaineers who will climb the nearby 23,100ft (7,045m) Lhakpa Ri peak.

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