When Harry was in Washington on Monday he announced from the podium the news that the injured veterans of the Walking With The Wounded Everest 2012 Expedition, of which he is patron, had been forced to turn back, "frustrated from reaching the summit by the unusually warm weather, which brings particularly dangerous conditions."
In fact, Harry was downplaying the disasters which have plagued the ill-fated mission significantly.
Walking With The Wounded have issued a longer explanation today of what happened, including the shocking information that the WWTW team was 'narrowly missed' by an avalanche, that they missed two rockfalls by 'no more than three minutes' and that in recent days one Sherpa has been killed on Everest and another, who was hit by an avalanche, broke his back after being swept down a crevasse.
Co-founder of Walking With The Wounded, Edward Parker, writes on the expedition website: “On Saturday I was contacted by Russell Brice, the expedition leader. We had chosen him to lead the team as he has comfortably the best record on Everest. He and I have been in close touch since the team deployed to Everest and I was aware that this season was proving to be particularly difficult. The main issue is it is unseasonally dry and warm. The result of this is there isn’t enough snow on the mountain side, leading to very loose rock, and hence rock fall. Also, as the core temperature of the ice cliffs is higher than normal, there have been a far greater number of avalanches. Last week an avalanche narrowly missed a team climbing with our boys.“A Sherpa was also hit by another rockfall and swept down a crevasse. He has survived but has a broken back. Last week one of our summit team Dr. Francis Atkinson, was also needed to tend another climber who has been hit by rock fall in the face. Coming back through the Icefall on Friday the boys missed two rock falls by no more than three minutes. During the last phase we were not able to get the team above the Lhotse Face and onto Camp 3 because of the dangerous conditions. In our discussions Russell described sending his Sherpa team through the Icefall each day (as they take supplies to feed our boys at Camp 2) like sending them off to battle. Sadly one Sherpa, from another team, has now been killed in the Icefall.
“The decision not to aim for the summit was not an easy one, but it is the right decision to be made.
“The team are very low as they have worked so hard over the last 9 months to achieve the target, but they do understand why we have made this decision and they were involved in the process.”