Grimsby army cadet airlifted after mountainside drama in the Himalayas
AN ARMY cadet was evacuated by a helicopter after suffering altitude sickness during a trek in the Himalayas.
Seventeen-year-old Ethan Harding was selected by the Grimsby Detachment Army Cadet Force for a one-month expedition over the mountains of Nepal after extensive fitness tests.
The cadet and 18 peers, along with five army instructors, set off from Nepalese village Jiri at the end of August, on a trail which wound around the famous Everest – the world's tallest mountain.
The teenager made it three weeks into the trip, but just three days before reaching their destination, he woke up at 4.30am suffering from severe altitude sickness at 4,910 feet.
Altitude sickness can be extremely dangerous as it can lead to dehydration so after lunchtime, the group decided to call for a helicopter to evacuate him and one of his peers – also suffering from sickness – for their own safety.
Ethan, who is now back home in Grimsby, said: "Flying through the Himalayas was a very strange experience – the mountains are so big that they seemed really close to the helicopter.
"I was gutted because three of my friends had been evacuated two days beforehand.
"No matter how fit you are, anyone can suffer from altitude sickness and it is strange because as soon as you get out of the high altitude conditions, the sickness goes.
"We drove from the airport to a healthcare centre and they said I was a little dehydrated.
"I went back to the hotel and drunk lots of water then the next day I went back and I was fine."
Of the 19 cadets who started, 14 finished the trek and met their five friends in Kathmandu.
Despite finishing a few days early, Ethan doesn't feel that he has lost out at all.
"The way I see it, I had three weeks of trekking across the Himalayas and it was absolutely brilliant," he said.
"This trek wasn't about finishing – it was about the experience itself. And I suppose the fact that I didn't finish gives me a chance to go back.
"It was great to spend a few days in Kathmandu talking to locals and taking in the culture.
"We were all skinny, tired and happy when we got back to the UK – but I missed Nepal as soon as we left."
Ethan's lifelong ambition is to serve in the Brigade of Ghurkas and he and the other cadets visited their garrison while in the city.
"It was an amazing place. We all bought kukris which are traditional long curved knives – considered a symbol of Nepal – to take back," he said.
Now studying at Franklin College, Ethan hopes to go to university then join the Army.
"The trip has made me even more determined to join," he added.