The idea to have an elite group of the British army climb Mount Everest using the most difficult West Ridge route – a feat done first by the USA and then subsequently by only a handful of others – was conceived in May 2003. After three years of intense training and planning, the team started climbing in May 2006. This website charts their progress, from the early planning days to the climb itself. In addition to being a wonderland for mountain climbing enthusiasts and proud Brits, it serves as an interactive advertisement for the Queen’s army.
There is enough content on this highly elaborate website to last viewers several weeks. Besides showing the history of Mt. Everest climbs, it explores route planning, equipment preparation, fitness training, and several videos per day recorded months before the expedition even began. It follows not just the Main Team, but also an extra Development team and even a Junior Team, made up of 16-22 year olds, who unfortunately, due to some altitude sickness, were not able to complete the ascent. There are videos, dozens of blogs, team member profiles, virtual tours and maps, army advertisements, celebrities’ good wishes, messages from fans, spouses and army VIPs, even How To’s. There are huge risks to using the West Ridge route including sub-zero temperatures, 45-degree angles, and avalanches. One recurring theme is the wind slab that the main team encounters, forcing them to change their route last minute. Despite all their training and effort, the elements proved too brutal, and after a failed summit bid on May 21, 2006, the British Army’s West Ridge climbers had to pack up and head home.
This website lets no details slip by: you can even check out the equipment list used for the climb or take a virtual tour of the entire route, complete with snapshot stills from along the way. Besides the obviously cool videos of the climbers climbing, check out the sunset from the North Face, or the “tutorial” of how to make a ghetto helmet cam. Good will messages from celebrities like Simon Cowell give you a sense of British pride.