Gurkhas from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) have reached the summit of North America’s highest mountain Mount Denali.
The ascent took the team 14 hours to the top of Mt Denali (6190m) where they braved temperatures as low as -40ºC.
The team reached the summit of Denali after a two-day summit push. Prior to this temperatures had dropped well below -60°C and stalled the party at the 4330m camp for two weeks.
Running out of supplies the team held out hope for a weather change, eventually summiting in perfect conditions after a gruelling 14 hour day. 23 days were spent on the mountain overall, without any external support.
The team have done immensely well to survive challenges including temperatures well below -40°C, persistent crevasse and rockfall hazards, and extreme exertion over long periods of time. All following a short 6-month build-up from Novice to competent mountaineer.
The team leader, Lt Oscar Goldfinger said; “After a 14 hour summit day, 11 of the 12 team members, including all the Gurkhas in the team stood on the highest point in North America. The lads did amazingly and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of them.”
The Officer Commanding B Company, 2RGR, Major Hugo Stanford-Tuck said; “I am just utterly thrilled for the guys. This team have worked unbelievably hard to achieve their goal and should be justifiably proud of what they’ve achieved. This goes to show that a Gurkha can do anything when he puts his mind to it.”
Support Company from 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles reinforcement cadre culminated into a fire power demonstration in Salisbury Plain Training Area on Wednesday 31st May 2017.
The newly arrived soldiers from the Rifle Companies underwent a six week-long training cadre in the different specialist roles within the Company establishment.
The final day saw the soldiers testing their newly acquired skills (with live ammunition) on the support weapons in front of the military and civilian spectators present.
On 22nd May 2017 staff members from the Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas visited 28 Squadron RAF Benson.
HQ Brigade of Gurkhas staff were collected from the sports field at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst by a Chinook helicopter and its team. The pilot then took us on a flight across London along the Thames route, right over the London Eye, Shard and the O2 arena. The pilot then circled back across London and over to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. The flight took approximately 45 mins and was a real please with great weather. With the rear door open on the Chinook the team got a fantastic view of the sights in London.
Upon arrival at RAF Benson the team were met by the Squadron Leader and given a brief about the past and current role of the Squadron, their main taks being training on various Helicopter systems. Later on the trip the team were given a guided tour of the high tech training facilities and simulators.
After the tour the HQ team were flown by Chinook directly back to Sandhurst the flight only taking 15 minutes.
28 Squadron’s Chinook helicopters have a demi-Pegasus painted onto the helicopter’s tail rotor pylon together with the Gurkha Flash of 48 Gurkha Infantry Brigade.
The Kukri Flash commemorates 28 Squadron’s former forty year association with the Gurkhas which ended in 1994.
The Brigade asked the Squadron to wear the Flash to remember its connection with the Gurkhas.
This trip was a fantastic experience and we look forward to developing our relationship with the Squadron further in the future. But how can we match the experience they gave us!
Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas (Colonel J Robinson) visited the Brigade Band and the Pipes & Drums from across the Brigade during their concentration programme held in Sir John Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe, Kent.
This concentration allows the Brigade to bring the pipes and drums up to speed in time for the major events during Brigade week this year the first week in July. These events will include a Sounding Retreat at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and then the Brigade Bhela in Aldershot.
Whilst the Colonel was visiting he took the opportunity to present the Long Service Good Conduct medals to several worthy recipients.
10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment become the British Army Army Hockey Champions on 17th May 2017. The final was played in Aldershot against the Army HQ team. After full time the score was level at 2-2 with 10 QOGLR winning a penalty final (flicks) 3-0.
A sport not normally associated with Gurkhas has been tackled head on. With some superb coaching and leadership from Staff Sergeant Harka, Sergeant Ball, Corporal Hillier and Corporal Dibendra and with the courage and tenacity of every team member to learn and and give it their all this incredible group of soldiers have secured an historic victory, they are the 2017 British Army Hockey Champions.
The British Army Champions trophy was presented by Maj Gen Nanson CBE the Chairman of Army Hockey and currently the Commandant of The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
On Monday 15th May 2017 members of the Gurkha Everest Expedition reached the top of Everest, becoming the first to scale the world’s tallest peak this year. The 14 summiteers included three Gurkha soldiers. “They made it to the summit at 1:15 pm,” said Gyanendra Shrestha, a Tourism Ministry official. This is the first time that serving Gurkha soldiers have reached the summit.
Then on Tuesday morning ten more of the Gurkha Everest team made it to the top of the world. This is a fantastic achievement for the Brigade and the British Army.
Mountaineering officials had said; “As the weather forecast stated high winds, it was not certain when Everest aspirants would make their summit bids. On the 10th May, the so-called Icefall Doctors, a dedicated team of local climbers who prepare the route up Everest by fixing ropes, had attempted to reach the top, however, they were forced to return due to high winds and heavy snowfall above what is called the ‘balcony’ (8,400 metres). The high-altitude Nepali mountain workers had then decided to make their summit bids after 17th May
However, the Gurkha Everest Expedition did not wait. “The Gurkha team assessed the weather themselves. They decided to mount the summit bid considering the weather window, a period of time when weather conditions can be expected to be suitable for them to climb,” said Shiva Raj Thapa, managing director of Summit Nepal Trekking that is handling the Gurkha Everest Expedition.
Deputy expedition leader Major Andrew Todd MBE said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the Brigade of Gurkhas, after our attempt in 2015 was called off due to the avalanches from the earthquake and our team then turned to assist the humanitarian aid that was required in the area. We are ecstatic about this success. It is another example of how the British Army strives to achieve excellence. We are delighted to have worked with the Sherpa to fix the ropes to the summit and to be the first team to summit this year — a great collaboration between Nepalis, working together to get the job done. We now hope for a safe descent to Base Camp over the next 24 hours or so.”
The team will now make their way down the mountain to the relative safety of Basecamp, regroup and prepare to return to Kathmandu and home to the UK.
We will update our dedicated page for the Gurkha Everest team as the full story unfolds.