May 8, 2012
A team of injured soldiers attempting to scale Mount Everest has been forced to pull out of the challenge because of safety concerns.
A Walking With The Wounded spokesman said unseasonably warm conditions meant that it was not safe for the group to continue, with an increased number of avalanches and falling ice hampering their efforts.
They will make a live broadcast from Everest on Thursday and withdraw the following day, the charity spokesman said.
He added: “The safety of our expedition is of the utmost importance for us.”
The five current and former soldiers, who had suffered gun-shot wounds, horrific burns and amputated limbs, arrived in Nepal at the end of March before setting off on a trek to the Everest Base Camp. They had been due to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, which stands at 8,848m (29,028ft) above sea level, towards the end of the month.
The charity spokesman said it was the “warmest season ever” on Everest, with a lack of snow meaning that there was nothing binding the rocks together, leading to rock falls. He added: “We have to climb through ice crevices as well, and they keep falling and crashing.”
Prince Harry, patron of the charity, who last year joined a Walking With The Wounded expedition for the first four days of a successful trip to the North Pole, had paid a surprise visit to the men as they left the UK.
He said at the time: “The expedition to the Himalayas – of which I am so proud to be patron – is raising money to train and educate those with physical and cognitive injuries suffered in war to manage their transition into civilian employment.”
The team has been led by Martin Hewett, 31, from Widnes in Cheshire, a former Captain in the Parachute Regiment, who was shot twice through his right shoulder in Afghanistan in 2007, which paralysed his arm.
The rest of the team is made up of Captain Francis Atkinson, Captain David Wiseman, Private Jaco van Gass and former Private Karl Hinett.