Army aviators scale Himalayan heights

Soldiers from Wattisham Airfield conquered the highest trekking peak in the World. ANL-141215-114536001
Soldiers from Wattisham Airfield conquered the highest trekking peak in the World. ANL-141215-114536001
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A team of soldiers marked the end of eight years of involvement in Afghanistan by scaling the highest trekking peak in the world.

The 10 troops from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham Flying Station, have returned from Exercise Himalayan Eagle – an expedition to climb the 6,476m high summit of Mera Peak in Nepal.

Offering a different challenge to the sands of Afghanistan, the 20-day expedition saw the troops trek from the 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, giving a view of five of the six highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest.

Captain Tom Stack organised the expedition as a different test for troops to mark the end of 4 Regiment’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.”

Airtrooper Michael Brough added: “The expedition was a brilliant experience, although reaching the summit was the hardest day of my life.

“We had to get up at 2am in temperatures of -28°C to set off and it took four long and slow hours to get up to the summit.

“The views from the top were breathtaking, and gave a real sense of achievement.”

The 21-year-old had not done much hill walking before going to Nepal and the expedition provided an opportunity for him to deepen his skills and knowledge.

“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 on to glaciers, and I am looking to go on and do mountain leader training.”

Lance Corporal Robbie Dhaliwal, 31, said: “I have done a fair bit of walking in the Alps and Himalayas 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.”