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A team of soldiers who operate the Apache attack helicopter has scaled the highest trekking peak in the world.
The 10 troops from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk, have 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 troops 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. The view from the top takes in five of the six highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest.
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 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.”
Airtpr Brough, 21 from Dartford, had not done much hillwalking before going to Nepal, with the expedition providing an opportunity to deepen his skills and experience. “My mountain experience has gone through the roof,” he said. “I’ve completed my alpine foundation qualification, which is about the skills needed to go above the snowline and onto glaciers, and I am looking to go on and do mountain leader training.”
Lance Corporal Robbie Dhaliwal, 31 from Ilford, said: “I have done a fair bit of walking in the Alps and Himalayas, but nothing of this scale, and people did look to me because of my experience. Trekking above the snowline was a real challenge and I’ve developed new skills which I’m keen to maintain, but we also got a chance to experience the culture of Nepal.”
Captain Tom Stack organised the expedition as a different challenge for troops to mark the end of 4 Regt AAC’s involvement with operations 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.”
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British Army Press Release Dated 8 Dec 2014