Main Team Overview

The Main Team will consist of 12 mountaineers specifically selected for their experience, skill, determination and ability to cohere as a team. After 18 months of training together, they will attempt to climb Dhaulagiri, in Alpine style, without Oxygen.

Main Team Selection

The Squad from which the Main Team will be chosen has been selected. The climb itself will:

If you have extensive mountaineering experience both technical and at altitude you may be considered as a late application.

Dhaulagiri is one of the lesser climbed 8000m peaks. Although other teams may be operating on the mountain, the Main Team will be self sufficient.

Expressions of interest should be made by email to

Main Team Information

At 8,167m, Dhaulagiri – ‘The White Mountain’ - is the seventh highest mountain on the planet. It was first climbed by the Austrian mountaineer, Kurt Diemberger and an Austrian/Swiss team, in 1960. They stablished the route up the North East Ridge, the line the Main Team will follow in 2016.

The Main Team will fly to Kathmandu in March 2016. They will travel south to the Annapurna/ Dhaulagiri range where they will embark on the lengthy process of acclimatisation. Following a trek to Tukuche base camp with the HADT (High Altitude Development Team), they will accompany and supervise the ascent of Tukuche Peak.

This is an important part of acclimatisation, as the team will gain altitude carrying load and sleep at increasingly higher camps. The route up Tukuche is described on the HADT page. This part of the expedition is estimated to take 1 month. Weather and conditions permitting, following a successful ascent, the HADT will depart to return to the UK while the Main Team continue to Dhaulagiri base camp, at 4750m.

The North East Ridge route begins by having to navigate through the icefall above base camp. Route finding can be tricky and there is a danger of rockfall from above. Once above the icefall, the ground becomes easier and Camp 1 will be on the Northeast Col, at 5700m. From here, the team will move up the lower section of the Northeast Ridge to Camp 2, at approximately 6600m. The ridge above steepens up to 45 degrees with terrific exposure as the mountain sweeps away below. Camp 3 is at 7000m on the ridge. Above, the route ascends to a rock pyramid at the top of the NE ridge, and Camp 4 is usually pitched just below, at 7400m. This is the last camp and from here climbing teams will push to the summit, an 8 - 14 hour climb.

Success depends on many factors. Proper preparation in terms of fitness and technical skill are only part of the jigsaw. The ascent will need good, stable weather and non-avalanche prone snow conditions. Team members will need to maintain their health, often difficult when chest infections and stomach upsets are made more likely by the environment and demands put on the body. Adequate acclimatisation is essential in order to avoid HAPE (HIgh Altitude Pulmonary Edema) and HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema), potential killers.

Given the correct conditions, the Main Team stands every chance of achieving their goal; an Alpine style ascent of Dhaulagiri without oxygen.

Surgeon Commander Adrian Mellor
Expedition Leader

Adrian joined the Navy in 1988 as a medical student and has seen military duty on submarines, aircraft carriers and land based field hospitals. He has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and on anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. He qualified as a doctor in 1990 and as a consultant anaesthetist in 2002 and currently works as a consultant cardiothoracic anaesthetist at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. His interest in high altitude medicine reflects his passion for mountaineering and he has published on a range of topics in the field. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Anaesthesia with an interest in Extreme Environments and is completing a higher degree (MD) involving research into mechanisms of acclimatization. He has been the medical officer for expeditions to high altitude in N and S America, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Nepal.

Adrian started climbing when a medical student and has extensive experience climbing all over the world. He is a qualified Joint Service Alpine Mountaineering Instructor and has led Service expeditions to Nepal, S America and Europe. His personal climbing experience includes rock climbing in UK, Europe and Australia to a standard of E1, Scottish winter routes up to technical grade 7, Alpine routes to TD. He has made first ascents in Kyrgyzstan and Bolivia, climbed the highest mountains in north and south America and been involved in two expeditions to 8000m peaks. He is the Chairman of the Royal Navy Royal Marines Mountaineering Club.

Home is in North Yorkshire where he lives with his wife and children. When not climbing he is a keen runner (representing the Royal Navy in the London marathon on several occasions), sailor and cyclist.

Group Captain Dave Tait
Expedition Deputy Leader

Dave joined the RAF in 1988 as an RAF Regiment Officer. He has deployed on operations across the Globe and seen service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Falkland Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also taken part in Arctic survival training in Norway and Northern Canada

Encouraged by his father, Dave developed an interest in mountaineering in his childhood which blossomed after he joined the RAF. His skills and experience were developed through his membership of the RAF Mountaineering Association climbing in the Canadian Rockies, European Alps, Bolivia and 3 times to the Himalayas. Additionally, he has attended a number of mountaineering instructional courses, gaining qualifications in travel in Alpine and Scottish winter conditions. He summited Ama Dablam in 1998 and led the successful British Services’ Expedition to Makalu in 2008, reaching 8200 metres but suffered frostbite leading to the loss of a number of extremities. He hopes to keep his feet warmer in 2016!

Dave is looking forward to the challenge of Dhaulagiri and introducing the next generation of Service climbers to the world of high altitude mountaineering. He is a firm believer that adventurous training opportunities such as this offer a unique environment to develop the teamwork, leadership and physical robustness attributes that serve our Service personnel so well on operations across the World.

Major Chris Wright
Expedition Quartermaster

Chris joined the Army in 2002, commissioning into The Royal Irish Regiment. He has served on operations in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan as well as participating on exercises around the world including Kenya, Norway and The Falkland Islands.

Chris is a military Alpine Mountaineering Leader as well as a Cold Weather Warfare Instructor. He has participated in several military expeditions and cold weather warfare exercises. In 2003, Chris was one of a small team to make the first crossing of the Forbidden Plateau on the Antarctic Peninsular and in 2013, he summitted Denali in North America.

Chris developed a keen interest in mountaineering at school and has continued to be an active climber, in summer, winter and alpine environments. This expedition will be the highest mountain that he has attempted, offering further insight into coping with the effects of high-altitude.

Chris lives in Sheffield with his wife and son.

Squadron Leader Jonathon Percival
Expedition Member

Jonathon ‘Percy’ Percival is a Medical Support Officer who has served 23 years in the Royal Air Force. Mountaineering has been a passion of Percy’s since the turn of the millennium and this has taken him across the world from the UK to the European Alps with brief spells in Africa, Bolivia and Peru and a couple of jaunts to the greater ranges of India and Nepal. The hills are an outlet from daily life behind the computer and Percy uses them to ensure he can pass his RAF fitness test but he also takes great satisfaction by using the outdoors as a medium for instructing and developing others. This expedition provides a significant development opportunity for many novice and intermediate mountaineers and Percy is keen to exploit this in order to sustain Service mountaineering into the future. With a heavy bias towards medical research, this expedition brings both mountaineering and the Defence Medical Services together – an excellent excuse to get away from the office. Most of all, Percy is hoping BSDMRE 16 will pull Service mountaineering into the 21st century by using modern techniques and styles of mountaineering to conquer an 8000m mountain in the minimum safe time possible without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Major Matt Howard
Expedition Member

Matt joined the Army in 1995 and spent the next four years working with 3 (Commando) Brigade on various overseas deployments to Norway, Brunei and Germany. In 2000 he commissioned into The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and spent the next 13 years on operational tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and a particularly busy exchange tour with the US Army in Louisiana. Although a well established advocate of the great outdoors from an early age, he didn’t ‘get into’ climbing until his early 30s, and in 2008 he moved from solely indoor walls to rock. Matt left the Regular Army in 2013 and now is a Reservist Company Commander with Bristol University Officer Training Corps.

Matt has had the fortune to attempt an unclimbed 6000m peak in Garhwal Himalaya, with a joint team of British and Indian Army mountaineers. As well as the usual areas of the UK, he has also enjoyed mountaineering in Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, the Dolomites, Spain, North America and Malta & Gozo. He is particularly attracted to the pioneering approach to high altitude mountaineering for a military team that this expedition promises, and he is especially keen to see how the the ‘alpine style’ attempt on Dhaulagiri will go.

Major Rich Mackie RM
Expedition Media Lead

Born and educated in Zimbabwe, Richard joined the Royal Marines in 2006 after Graduating from Rhodes University in South Africa with a BSc. He completed Young Officer training in 2008 after deploying to Afghanistan as a Marine in 2007 and subsequently qualified as a Mountain Leader Officer in 2012. He was awarded the Deacon Trophy (after Zeke Deacon) for the best rock and ice climber on the course and was then selected as Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Troop at 42 Commando which is made up of Mountain Leaders class 1,2 and 3 and Royal Marines Snipers, specialising in vertical assault, mountain movement, ground manned reconnaissance, ISTAR and arctic warfare. During his time in the Marines he has deployed on and contributed to planning four 3 month Norway winter deployments. He has also been involved in several ML climbing and mountaineering exercises in Devon, Wales, Scotland, the Swiss and French Alps where he has summited the Eiger, Matterhorn and several other 4000m Alpine Peaks. He also enjoys skiing and is qualified as a military cross country and telemark ski instructor with ski touring experience in Norway, Finland and France. He has recently been selected on the 2016 quadrennial Joint Services Expedition to climb Dhaulagiri (8167m) in the Himalaya. He lives with his wife and daughter in Woodbury near Exmouth.

Surgeon Lieutenant Josh Bakker-Dyos
Expedition Doctor

Josh is a Royal Navy General Duties Medical Officer. Having recently deployed in support of the Royal Marines on both land and maritime operations, his attention is now firmly focused on the British Services Dhaulagiri Medical Research Expedition 2016. A keen climber and mountaineer, he has been fortunate to have combined his passion for the mountains with his professional interests in physiology and sports science. His ever developing knowledge in the field of high altitude medicine is reflected in a number of recent publications and he aims to progress this as a valuable member of the research team.

Josh has been climbing since he was 11 and has climbed throughout the UK and European Alps in summer and winter conditions. The British Services Dhaulagiri Medical Research Expedition 2016 will be both his first military expedition and climbing trip to the Greater Ranges. He looks forward to the challenges of surviving at high altitude and climbing Dhaulagiri in a modern, lightweight ‘alpine’ style.

Lieutenant Graham Stephenson
Expedition Member

Born and raised in Liverpool Graham developed a love for the outdoors at his school, Liverpool College, through the scouts and the CCF and by the age of 17 was heading off to India for his first major expedition high altitude trekking. After school he attended the University of Manchester and his passion for the hills intensified and developed from hillwalking to climbing and skiing especially during a year exchange at the University of Calgary an hour from the Canadian Rockies. During his time at the OTC Graham spent as much of his free time as possible doing AT, leading trips and gaining qualifications in all aspects of mountain sports.

After leaving Manchester with an MSc and a BSc Graham set off travelling the world for 14 months, including 8 months living in Banff in the heart of the Canadian Rockies where he could devote his time to his love of skiing and climbing. On returning to the UK he passed Army Officer Selection Board, joined 103 Regiment Royal Artillery and commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 3rd August 2013.

Graham serves in 208 Battery Liverpool as Troop Commander of A Troop, The Liverpool Irish and is a freelance AT instructor. An experienced and well qualified instructor this will be Graham’s second climbing trip to the Himalayas having previously ascended Kyajo Ri (6186m) alpine style in 2014 with an Army team and he is looking forward to the greater challenge of an 8000m mountain after successful ascents in the Alps and Andes. Graham has climbed, skied and led expeditions all over the world from Greenland to New Zealand. His personal climbing experience includes rock climbing to a standard of E1, winter routes up to Scottish grade V and WI4 abroad and Alpine routes to Difficile.   When not in the mountains Graham can be found kayaking, sailing or at Anfield watching Liverpool FC.

Captain Matt Webster RM
Expedition Member

Matt has been climbing since 2000. He has climbed in Scotland, Morocco, Bulgaria, Pyrenees, Picos de Europa, Alps, Wales and South Coast UK. The highest altitude is has reached previously is the summit of Mt. Kenya in 2003 (4985m).

Captain Marcus Levens
Expedition Comms Lead

Private Sandro Gromen-Hayes
Expedition Photographer

Expedition Sponsors

summit oxygen
action cases