From the sprawling plains of the desert to the tip of Mt Everest – the UAE Armed Forces have summited the world’s highest mountain, and they returned home to a hero’s welcome.

The team, consisting of 13 military climbers, a specialist in sports medicine and high altitude physiology and three professional mountain climbers reached the 8,848-metre high peak of Mt Everest on May 19 and raised the flag of the UAE in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the unification of the country’s Armed Forces.

UAE Everest

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To reach the summit, the group climb for almost 17 hours and up 1,600 metres from camp three, known as ‘Lhotse Wall’ at 6800m, resting briefly at camp four in what is known as ‘Deathzone’, dealing with temperatures down to -30ºc and with only 33 per cent of the oxygen available at sea level.

UAE Everest

The UAE Armed Forces team climb The Knife Ridge, close to the summit.

Altitude sickness is no joke either. Even after acclimatising to the best of your abilities, the body just isn’t built to survive near the same altitude as commercial planes.

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Your heart rate increases, you sweat almost twice as much – making dehydration a problem – and accompanied with nausea, headaches, vomiting, tiredness, insomnia and loss of appetite, it makes it pretty hard to climb a mountain. But these UAE men did.

UAE Everest

The group catch a break on the mountain.

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Arriving back at Al Bateen Private Airport in Abu Dhabi, the troupe were greeted by H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan as well as a number of other officials, friends and family.

UAE Everest

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Sheikh Nahyan shook the hand of each team member, congratulating them by saying, “the team has proven their ability to challenge themselves and have shown their strength and determination during this expedition. They conquered one of the toughest challenges in the world and embodied the spirit and determination of the UAE Armed Forces.”

UAE Everest

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The news of the group’s return comes just two weeks after a team of women from the UAE Armed Forces returned from Mt Everest base camp at 5,364m above sea level in the Khumbu Valley.