Malmesbury soldier's team forced to pull out of Everest adventure (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Malmesbury soldier's team forced to pull out of Everest adventure
12:00pm Tuesday 8th May 2012 in Malmesbury
A team of injured soldiers, including one veteran from Malmesbury, 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 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.
Capt Francis Atkinson, 31, from Malmesbury, suffered a gunshot wound to his right upper arm while serving as a doctor in Afghanistan. It caused significant nerve damage, and as a result his right hand does not function properly.
The rest of the team is made up of Captain David Wiseman, Private Jaco van Gass and former Private Karl Hinett.
Capt Wiseman, 29, from Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, was shot in the chest during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan in November 2009.
North Pole trekker Private Jaco van Gass, 25, from Middleburg, South Africa had his left arm blown off when he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in Afghanistan.
Mr Hinett, 25, from Tipton, West Midlands, sustained 37 per cent burns to his hands, legs, arms and face when his Warrior tank received a direct hit by a petrol bomb in Basra, Iraq in 2005.
* Prince Harry has paid tribute to a team of injured servicemen whose attempt to climb Mount Everest has been abandoned because of safety concerns.
The five current and former soldiers taking part in the Walking With The Wounded challenge will leave the Himalayas later this week. A charity spokesman said the mountain was "a death trap" and the already difficult task of climbing 8,848m (29,028ft) above sea level to the summit had been made "almost impossible".
Expedition patron Prince Harry, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington where he was given a humanitarian award, said: "Last year, I struggled to keep up with the four British soldiers whom I joined for part of their expedition to walk to the North Pole. Each of these men had recently been gravely wounded on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Theirs was the fastest team to reach the Pole that season.
"At this very moment, another team of our wounded are returning from Mount Everest. Sadly, I have to be the first to say they have been frustrated from reaching the summit by the unusually warm weather, which brings particularly dangerous conditions. However, the mere fact that they are up there on that fearsome peak, I find totally amazing."
Russell Brice, expedition leader who has led groups up Everest over the past 25 years, said: "I've never seen conditions like this before - the mountain is in a very critical condition indeed."