An attempt to climb the West Ridge of Everest is a huge commitment that only the strongest team and best planning can accomplish.
Technically a very hard route, isolated from other teams on the mountain, it would require an immense team effort to achieve. It was the perfect choice.
The timing could not have been better, soon approaching was a significant event in Army Mountaineering calendar, the 30th anniversary of the Army’s first successful Everest Summit attempt when SAS legends Brummie Stokes and Bronco Lane not only stood on the summit, but also endured an unplanned bivouac close to the summit.
The expedition captured the attention of a very wide audience and became the central focus of the most successful recruitment campaign the Army have ever produced. National media took a key interest and Sky News joined the excitement by inviting the leaders onto Live TV and sending a media team to the mountain. An additional fully supported crew filmed a multi award winning digital campaign keeping the world informed of every movement of all 3 teams; the pressure was on to make this a huge success as all 3 teams departed UK in March-April 2006.
In 2000 Dave was part of the British Services expedition to Kanchenjunga, the world’s 3rd highest peak. The outstanding leadership of the overall leader, Steve Jackson, left a lasting positive impression. This was key to Dave becoming inspired to organise and lead a major expedition of his own.
3 years later, in May 2003, close friend and fellow mountaineer, Dave Pearce, also a member of the Kanchenjunga expedition, summited Everest and this was the catalyst for Dave declaring that he was going to organise an expedition to Mount Everest on behalf of the Army Mountaineering Association.
The initial reaction of those directly around him was extraordinarily supportive and drove Dave to design something unique that was challenging, diverse, ground breaking and most importantly inclusive of not just the gladiators of army mountaineering, but also the next generation.
CHOOSING THE ROUTE
As he started to formulate his plan, close friend John Doyle, at the time the Army’s most successful high altitude climber, suggested the formidable West Ridge of the mountain. Unclimbed by any British team, it had been previously attempted by the British Services in 1988 and 1992.
The time and place was set and 3 years of intense planning and preparation followed. In his drive for inclusivity Dave set up two other teams; a Development Team climbing a separate 7000m peak to capture the next generation of leaders and a Junior Team climbing a separate 6000m peak to embrace and develop the grass routes of Mountaineering. Team selection of a 21 strong team for Everest, with 15 and 13 strong teams respectively for the other teams was highly competitive and highlighted the excitement for the project.