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 in Washington DC 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.”
The team arrived in Nepal at the end of March and planned to reach the summit of Everest by the end of this month.
Walking With The Wounded co-founder Edward Parker said: “The decision not to aim for the summit was not an easy one, but it is the right decision to be made.”