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Prince Harry joins injured soldiers' North Pole trek

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Media captionPrince Harry attended a briefing with the soldiers in Svalbard, Norway

Prince Harry has arrived in the Arctic to join four disabled servicemen facing a challenging 200-mile (320km) trek across the polar ice cap.

The prince, patron of the charity Walking With The Wounded, will join the men on the first five days of what is expected to be a four-week mission.

They hope to enter the record books as the first disabled team to walk unassisted to the North Pole.

The charity aims to raise £2m from the trek to help injured servicemen.

Prince Harry said: "This extraordinary expedition will raise awareness of the debt that this country owes to those it sends off to fight, only for them to return wounded and scarred, physically and emotionally."

The team are spending this week on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Europe's most northerly piece of dry land before the polar ice cap, says Frank Gardner, who will be reporting on the trek for the BBC.

They are having to acclimatise to temperatures below -20C and landscapes of unremitting snow and ice.

Image caption The four wounded soldiers have been training together for several months

Polar sledges

They are breaking down their supplies and packing them into "pulks" - polar sledges weighing up to 100kg (220lbs) which they will have to drag behind them, our correspondent adds.

On Friday, after completing an intensive course of training, the prince will fly with the team to the Borneo ice airfield for the first five days of their challenge.

The soldiers taking part were all injured in Afghanistan and include Sgt Stephen Young, who broke his back in August 2009 when his vehicle was hit by a bomb.

Asked about being part of the team, he said: "It feels phenomenal. When it happened in 2009 I went to Camp Bastion field hospital where they informed me that I may never walk again.

"So to go from that stage to getting the nod to walk to the North Pole is unbelievable. It feels great."

He will be joined by Capt Martin Hewitt, who was left with a paralysed right arm after being shot, and Capt Guy Disney who had his right leg amputated below the knee after he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Pte Jaco Van Gass had his left arm amputated and was left with significant tissue loss to his left leg when he too was hit by an RPG.

The men will be joined by two charity founders Simon Dalglish and Ed Parker and polar guide Inge Solheim.

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