SOLDIERS have conquered eight unclimbed peaks in the Arctic – raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process.
The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment has returned from Greenland after reaching the summit of the peaks in the treacherous fringes of the Arctic.
The mountaineers, all from the 2nd Battalion based at Weeton Barracks, including Sgt Maj Adam Diver from Fleetwood, and L/Cpl Simon Brown from Kirkham, were in the team and overcame temperatures as low as -30C to complete their task, while raising more than £10,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
The three-week expedition tackled peaks in a region of Greenland called Liverpool Land, named by whalers from the city. The area is home to mountains up to 1,400m in height.
The harsh conditions made even simple tasks, such as dressing, difficult – even the team’s portable cookers froze.
Sgt Maj Diver said: “The temperature was a massive challenge. Some of us had been out to the Falklands in -10 to -15C, but the temperatures out in Greenland hit -30C.
“We had the right equipment and training, but it gets quite difficult.
“Climbing eight peaks was an excellent feat, we did not think we would be able to scale so many. We were aiming for three but we were well trained and well motivated.
“We left a pile of rocks and a Cystic Fibrosis Trust flag on top of each peak.”
The team was dropped off by snowmobile and looked at the first peak before preparing their assault on the summit. Once there, the soldiers took the opportunity to scout the next peak, look at routes, and plan their next climb.
Sgt Major Diver added: “I carried a rifle in case of polar bears, and we had wire going around the tents, but aside from some huskies when we landed, we saw very little wildlife.”
Army soldiers regularly take part in demanding expeditions to help build fitness, team spirit and self-reliance, but this was also seen as an opportunity to raise money for a good cause.
The team chose to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust because former Blackpool player Chris Beech’s son Brandon suffers with the illness.
Sgt Maj Diver added: “If you climb a route for the first time here in the UK you get to name it, so we did the same. We called one peak Brandon after the little boy who we were raising funds for.”
Brandon, aged nine and from Chorley, helps raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust through Brandon the Lion, a mascot named after him.
Dad Chris was delighted with the soldiers’ support during their expedition, which was named Exercise Northern Lion. He said: “We try to raise awareness about Brandon’s illness through the lion mascot – and soldiers of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment are known as The Lions of England so it just came together.
“The soldiers even took a Brandon mascot cuddly toy with them.”