Soldiers who operate the Army’s Apache attack helicopters are setting off to the Himalayas as part of celebrations of the Army Air Corps’ Diamond Jubilee.
Across a demanding 20 days, Exercise Diamond Peak will see 21 soldiers - primarily from Wattisham-based 3 and 4 Regiments Army Air Corps - scale the 20,423ft (6,189m) peak of Imja Tse in temperatures expected to plummet to -20 deg C. The troops have been preparing for the ascent on training camps in Snowdonia, with 180 original applicants whittled down to the expedition team.
The expedition is part of an ambitious programme of adventurous training being carried out by AAC soldiers to mark the 60th anniversary of the Corps’ foundation in 1957 including rock climbing in Chile, skiing in the Norwegian Arctic and trekking in New Zealand.
Expedition leader Major Chris Andrews said: “There is great value in putting soldiers in demanding situations together outside the military environment, to develop their teamwork and confidence. Most of the team have not done any mountaineering before getting involved in the expedition. It will provide our soldiers with the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the breath-taking beauty of the Himalayas, whilst pushing themselves to the limit of endurance to achieve an objective and making lifelong friends – which is what the Army Air Corps is all about.”
4 Regt AAC’s Lance Corporal Joshua Bulpin, 23 from Ardington in Oxfordshire, said: “I’m really excited about going out to Nepal. I’ve always really wanted to do a mountaineering expedition like this and hopefully it’ll suit me and be an activity I can take further. I’m expecting that coping with the altitude will be really tough, but we’ve trained hard and done lots of medical preparation.”
3 Regt AAC’s Airtrooper Mark Plunkett, 21 from Coatbridge near Glasgow, said: “Ben Nevis is the highest hill I’ve climbed before, so the Himalayas is going to be a real difference in scale and challenge. I’m looking forward to getting into the high mountains and experiencing the culture of Nepal and seeing how people live. I’ve been training hard to prepare myself and we’ve come together well as a team.”