To commemorate the 200 years of service of the Gurkhas in the British Army in 2015, the Brigade of Gurkhas intend to send a team of soldiers to climb Mount Everest and put the first serving British Gurkha soldier on the summit.
To achieve this will require a great deal of personal motivation, training, commitment and significant personal contributions. All Gurkha Units were informed of this and the response has been excellent, with over 150 applications having been received by the closing deadline.
The eventual team size is planned on being 8 climbers and 4 Instructors, to select this amount from across a Brigade of such high calibre soldiers is not going to be easy and many people have asked how this is to be achieved. The method to be used will be by selection through several phases of training. The best team members will be selected through the process outlined below:
• To ensure a fair initial selection, all applications were first screened by Unit GM’s and RATOs and then sent into HQBG where they were further screened by the Expedition Management Committee to select the best candidates who will then be called forward for a selection / training meet in summer 2014. This is likely to be in North Wales and will be based around the Summer Mountaineering Foundation to give all potential candidates chance to gain qualifications regardless of whether they make the final squad or not.
• Successful candidates from the North Wales squad will then form the initial squad who will be called forward for Winter Mountaineering Foundation training in Scotland over the winter of 13/14. Once again the squad will be thinned down at this stage and invited to take part in the Alpine Mountaineering Foundation Course which will be conducted in the summer of 2014 in the European Alps.
• The final training event will be held in the Nepal Himalaya’s, with the ascent of a peak of over 7000 metres to assess the members best suited to dealing with the extremes of altitude and working on the systems only found in the high mountains. At this stage the final team plus a few reserves will be selected for the main event. Team members will be expected to take part in UK based training events on weekends and will be given individual training plans which they will be expected to stick to, as well as additional team tasks to make the expedition happen.
As you can see this is a comprehensive training plan involving a large amount of people. It will require a lot of personal sacrifice for the team and will require buy in from individual Line Managers. It will also require the full support from family members who must be under no illusion as this will involve a significant amount of separation. Finally for all the personnel involved, they will have the opportunity to gain further AT qualifications, see areas of the UK and Europe they would otherwise not get to, and pick up significant experience and skills. All will have a role in placing the final team members who will put the Brigade of Gurkhas firmly in the mountaineering history of Nepal and Mount Everest.