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Winds strand Everest climb soldiers

A team of injured soldiers scaling Everest was stranded at camp as the mountain was battered by high winds.

The Walking With The Wounded group was forced back by 150mph gusts after trying to reach the Lhotse Face and beyond last Friday, they said.

Large boulders were dislodged from the mountain, turning the journey treacherous.

But after beating a retreat to Everest's Camp 2, they remained stranded there for three days, surviving on their reserve food supply.

On Friday they arrived safely back at Base Camp, having helped rescue other climbers in trouble along the way.

Expedition leader Russell Brice, who has led expeditions up Mount Everest for 25 years, said he had never seen such conditions.

"Unseasonably warm weather has made conditions on Everest a little more testing than normal," he said. "We have been undertaking rescues for other teams every single day this week, and on Monday we airlifted a Sherpa from Camp 1 following a stroke."

Walking With The Wounded Everest Summit team leader, former captain Martin Hewitt, added "every step was a mission" as the soldiers attempted their climb.

"Breathing was difficult and combined with little or no sleep the body was taking a punishment," he said. "Despite several attempts to head towards Camp 3 we were forced back due to high winds and rock fall coming down the Lhotse Face."

Mr Hewitt from Widnes in Cheshire, Captain David Wiseman from Tadcaster in North Yorkshire, Captain Francis Atkinson from Swindon in Wiltshire, former Private Karl Hinett from Tipton in the West Midlands and Private Jaco van Gass from Middleburg in South Africa are in the process of acclimatising for their climb to the summit of the world's high mountain.

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