Dartmouth Young Officers Battle Severe Weather During Mont Blanc Ascent

From: Nephria
Published: Fri Sep 11 2009

Six officer Cadets have returned safely after undertaking a nerve jangling and highly demanding bid to summit Western Europe’s highest peak.

Standing over 15 000 feet in the French Alps, Mont Blanc is prone to highly changeable weather conditions which can deteriorate rapidly. It also presents considerable objective dangers such as constant rock fall and narrow ridges where the effects of strong winds can have a disastrous impact. As such Mt Blanc presents a formidable challenge for both seasoned and inexperienced climbers alike and it proved no easy objective for a recent Britannia Royal Naval College Expedition named, ‘Sea to the Summit’.

Expedition Leader, Lieutenant Commander Paul Hart, said, "Expeditions of this type provide our people with an exceptional opportunity to develop the leadership characteristics and personal qualities we need. Faced with clear and real objective risks, individuals can gain an insight into their true psyche under demanding and potentially hazardous conditions. This is perhaps the closest replication of the operational environment that can be achieved without actually being on Operations and it enables individuals to gain some conditioning to what they may face as a reality of their future military careers. The conception and preparation of this particular trip, combined with the completion of the objectives, required substantial and detailed planning by all participants. It was a great pleasure to work with such a motivated and committed party. I was truly impressed with the grit and determination of the Cadets to deal with what were, frankly, extremely hostile conditions on the mountain. The fact that 18 civilian mountaineers had to be rescued off the mountain while we were up there testifies to the severity of the conditions. It also testifies to the quality of the Cadets who remained focussed and calm while following instructions and employing all the training of preceding days to make an unassisted descent in the ferocious conditions."

After 4 days of group training, involving glacier travel and crevasse rescue procedures, high altitude acclimatisation and advanced mountaineering techniques, the party spent 2 days in excess of 10 000 feet, ascending the spectacular Gouter Route. This required substantial height gains and long days of load carrying and working as a team.

Sub Lieutenant Rob Tristram, the senior cadet, added, "As a submarine volunteer, I know that I will face many obstacles and demands in my training and future employment. Being part of this expedition has allowed me to recognise and conquer many physical and mental challenges. The experience will make me more confident in my ability to face up to, and overcome, all that my future career may place in front of me."

The Expedition was completed within 3 months of initial approval. This in itself was an impressive achievement, considering the majority of the Young Officers joined the Royal Navy only last Easter. Intense training and preparation both in the UK and on location in Chamonix, bonded the team and exposed the trainees to the concepts of Grit, Courage, Determination, Perseverance and Fortitude - skills and values that will benefit them as they progress their careers.

The young officers have now joined the Fleet for their ongoing initial officer training, better prepared for having participated in this Expedition.

For more information, contact Lt Cdr Hart, Staff Officer, BRNC, as follows: Office: 01803 677110, Cell: 07545 119547, E Mail: Raleigh-octsg@nrta.mod.uk

Press Contact:
Andrew MILLS
20, The Bakery
Royal Clarence Marina, GOSPORT
Hampshire, PO12 1FX
07790 231133
Company: Nephria
Contact Name: Andrew MILLS
Contact Email: Andrew@Nephria.com
Contact Phone: 07790 231133

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