A FORMER army officer who is attempting to climb Mount Everest with five injured soldiers has come up with a novel way of avoiding homesickness – he’s taken his family with him.
Henry Chaplin, 49, from Barnton, is accompanying a party of wounded servicemen to the summit of Mount Everest in order to raise money for the army charity, Walking with the Wounded.
However, rather than be apart from his family for up to ten weeks, the intrepid mountaineer decided to take his wife Christina and children, George, 13, Magnus, 12, and Amelie, nine, along with him.
The children, who attend Cargilfield Preparatory School, and Christina, will return home once the expedition reaches Everest Base Camp, leaving Henry to accompany the rest of the group to the summit, 8848m above sea level.
Three days ago the group set out from Lukla in eastern Nepal and they hope to reach Everest Base Camp, which stands at 5380m, on April 10.
Speaking from a camp along the trail, Henry said: “We’re quite an outdoorsy family anyway and the kids have all been skiing and rock climbing in the past. They’re not ones for PlayStations and that.
“They will accompany me to Everest Base Camp before heading back down. It’s not the usual half-term holiday but the real acclimatisation doesn’t occur until we reach base camp.
“It’s perfectly safe and will be a major achievement for the kids.” A former captain in the Royal Green Jackets, Henry has a wealth of mountaineering experience, which he will be using to mentor the wounded servicemen on their ascent.
Each member of the team has their own unique challenges to overcome, due to injuries suffered while on tour in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Captain Martin Hewitt has been left paralysed in both arms after being injured in a firefight in Afghanistan, while Corporal Karl Hinett suffered 38 per cent burns after his vehicle was petrol-bombed during a riot in Iraq. As a result he has to take special care of his damaged skin.
He said: “Frostbite is a real danger, so I’m taking every precaution to make sure this doesn’t hamper my summit attempt.”
As part of their training, Henry accompanied the team to the summit of Manaslu in October last year, and in doing so they became the first disabled climbers to conquer the 8156m Himalayan peak.
Henry said: “These guys are a real inspiration and are all unbelievably determined. In fact, their determination could actually be a problem as, after a lifetime of climbing I know what my limitations are.
“They, on the other hand, refuse to be beaten so I’ll have to watch to make sure they aren’t pushing themselves beyond their limits.
“It has been a lifelong dream for me to climb Everest, and to do it with such extraordinary people is incredible.
“It’s rather nice to have my family along for some of it, too.”
To sponsor the Chaplin family’s trek to base camp go to www.justgiving.com/Chaplin-Family
To find out more about the Walking With The Wounded Everest 2012 Expedition, visit www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk/everest2012