Britain's Prince Harry eyes North Pole trek

12th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prince Harry is determined to join wounded British soldiers on a landmark trek to the North Pole, his office said Wednesday -- military commitments and his brother's wedding plans permitting.

Two servicemen who lost limbs fighting in Afghanistan, plus two others maimed in the conflict, are attempting to become the first amputees to trek unaided to the pole.

The expedition, leaving on March 23, will raise money for the Walking With the Wounded charity, which helps to rehabilitate injured troops and help them back into work.

Harry, an army lieutenant who has served in Afghanistan, is the charity's patron and is keen to join the 200-mile (320-kilometre) slog across the polar ice cap from Siberia.

However, the adventure is set to reach the pole around April 25 to 26 -- if it is not delayed -- which would not give him much time before his brother Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton in London on April 29.

Harry, who is training to become an Apache attack helicopter pilot, is considered most likely to be William's best man.

A spokeswoman for his Clarence House office said: "He would still very much love to join the expedition, and if he can, he will.

"However, his military training commitments mean he will not know for some weeks whether this is going to be possible, so in the meantime, he is following preparations closely."

He may join the team for part of the journey.

The four will have to trek in temperatures as low as around minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit), each man pulling a sledge weighing at least 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds). They may also have to see off polar bears.

They will be accompanied by the charity's two founders, a polar guide and a logistics and training man.

One of the wounded soldiers making the trek, Private Jaco van Gass, 24, lost his left arm from the elbow in a rocket attack.

He said: "The personal achievement would be great no doubt, but by showing other wounded servicemen and women that life goes on and to open more opportunities for them in the future, that's a much better reason to do it."

© 2011 AFP

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