In 2015, the Brigade of Gurkhas selected a team of 16 serving Gurkha soldiers who would attempt to summit Everest in celebration of 200 years’ service to The Crown.
On 25 April 2015, as the Everest team made their first acclimatisation rotation on the mountain, a catastrophic earthquake hit Nepal, bringing chaos and destruction to the Gurkhas’ homeland.
Large parts of the country were destroyed, devastating the lives of the Nepali people. On Everest, a huge avalanche swept through Base Camp, flattening everything in its path. Eighteen people were killed and the Gurkhas’ base camp manager, Captain Buddhi, received a bad head wound.
The 2015 Earthquake in Nepal was an extremely difficult time for everyone in the country and, of course, the climbers on Everest, who were impacted. As all of us turned to the rescue and restoration efforts, the British Army Gurkhas showed exemplary teamwork and dedication to helping the ones in need. Having the Gurkhas on Everest working alongside me was a great show of leadership and camaraderie. Having a well-trained British military unit of climbers, who also spoke Nepali, made a big difference in the earthquake relief effort and I believe many others in the climbing community will join me in wishing the British Army Gurkhas every success in summiting Everest in 2017. Their strong team cohesion, fitness and dedication to the Nepali community will surely pave the way to success. As I prepare to guide my team of climbers on Everest this spring with Madison Mountaineering, I look forward to sharing this incredible mountain again with the British Army Gurkha Team.
AUTHOR OF LEGACY The Gurkhas have an extraordinary legacy of overcoming hardship on their way to victory. In 2015, a team of Gurkhas endured the effects of the Nepal Earthquake while on Everest and rose to the occasion by ‘doing the right thing on a difficult day'. Undeterred by the set back, they are hellbent on doing it again - which is as it should be. After all, as one of their forebears once said. ‘I haven’t come this far just to run away.” Ayo Gurkha. The Gurkhas are coming!
Gurkha soldiers were among the first choice to provide support to British Himalayan expeditions from the very beginnings in the 1920s.
In 1975, a young Gurkha soldier, Rifleman Pasang Tamang from 7th Gurkha Rifles, died along with three other British army climbers while attempting to reach the summit of Nuptse. He was one of a number of 7th Gurkha soldiers who had begun training as climbers in the late 1960s. Pasang was not in a support role but had been selected as a climber to be a member of the Army Mountaineering Association expedition under training prior to an attempt on Everest the following year.
In 1976, three serving soldiers were included as climbers on that Army Mountaineering expedition to Everest, and many have since been members, as climbers, of Army and Joint Services expeditions to Everest in 1988 and 1992, and also to numerous other Himalayan peaks.
It has been my personal privilege and honour to train and climb with many Gurkha soldiers and to have them alongside me on expeditions to Everest and several other peaks in the Himalaya during the past decades. I am humbled now to witness Gurkhas have their own expedition to Everest and to see them rise to the highest standards of mountaineering expertise and leadership. This is a real joy but, given their nature, not a surprise. I look forward to them putting a serving Gurkha soldier on the summit and completing our unfinished task. On behalf of myself and all those Gurkha climbers past, I wish this 2017 team the very best of luck and good fortune for a safe and successful expedition.