Prince Harry will support a gruelling trip by wounded and injured servicemen and women in a bid to reach the South Pole.
The Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge will see service personnel from the UK, Commonwealth and United States tackle the route to the South Pole next year.
The project has the backing of Prince Harry, the expedition’s patron.
Previous Walking With The Wounded ventures include a trek to the North Pole and this year’s aborted attempt on Everest, beaten back by bad weather.
This time, teams of wounded service personnel from the USA and the Commonwealth – New Zealand, Canada and Australia – will race across the Antarctic in November and December 2013 under the patronage of Prince Harry.
Outdoor brand Helly Hansen will equip the participants with clothing for the severe conditions.
The Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge 2013, predicted by polar experts to be the largest modern day expedition of its type, will be composed of three teams of wounded service personnel, all with either physical or cognitive injuries sustained in the line of duty.
The teams will represent and raise funds for military charities from the constituent nations: Soldier On from Canada, The Wounded Warrior Trust from New Zealand, Soldiers to Summits from the United States and Soldier On from Australia.
Edward Parker, co-founder of Walking With The Wounded, said: “The Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge will demonstrate the close bond between the UK forces and our allies both on and off the battlefield.
“There is no doubt that the young men and women who take part in our expeditions are an inspiration; they prove what is possible post-injury given the right support.”
This expedition will last for four weeks and the teams will cover a total of 335km, which will be divided into managed stages and checkpoints.
Each team will have a nominated mentor, an experienced polar guide and the challenge will have its own specialist support and medical staff.
While trekking about 15 to 20km per day, the teams will endure temperatures as low as -45C and 50mph (80kph) winds as they pull their pulks – custom built arctic sledges – each weighing more than 70kg, towards the southern-most point on the globe.
Participants will have to battle harsh weather conditions, vast crevasses, moving ice-shelves, glaciers and snow storms. Underlining these challenges will be the life-changing physical and cognitive injuries sustained by the team members during their military service.
Organisers said the participants’ injuries will require constant monitoring and management to ensure they can progress safely to the pole.
Antarctica is the only continent to have never had an indigenous population. The conditions are relentlessly harsh, often perilous and perennially unforgiving. The teams need specially designed equipment and clothing which takes into account their unique injuries.
Helly Hansen is a Norwegian company with over 135 years of protecting and enabling professionals in some of the harshest environments on earth. They supported Walking With The Wounded at both the North Pole and Everest, and are stepping up again as the official clothing supplier.
The company’s marketing vice-president Eric Burbank said: “We are very proud at Helly Hansen to continue our support of the Walking With The Wounded team.
“We’ve again been entrusted with the responsibility of keeping them confident, protected and enabled in the face of some ferocious conditions. Throughout our 135-year history, Helly Hansen has been at the forefront of technology and design innovation.
“We’ll call on all that experience and do our very best to help ensure the teams have a safe and successful expedition and remain confident when it matters.”
Expedition manager Victoria Nicholson said: “Our teams will take part in the highest profile modern day expedition.
“The number and international provenance of participants, the royal patronage, the distances covered and the market-leading communications and support infrastructure will ensure that the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge will set a new benchmark in terms of expeditions.
“If any brands or companies wish to take the opportunity to partner with us in this truly unique charitable project then I would, of course, be delighted to hear from them.”