My challenge for 2015 following gastric surgery in October 2014 was to lose 9 stone in weight in 1 year, as it happens I lost over 10 stone (140 lbs / 65Kg). During this time I became more physically active walking and cycling, so I set myself a new challenge for 2016.
My challenge for 2016 is to climb Mt Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa at 5895m / 19341 ft (that’s 9688 ft less than Mt Everest and the 4th highest of the famed seven summits).
At 54 years of age this is the most physically demanding challenge I have set myself and the plan is to start the ascent to the the summit of Kilimanjaro on New Years Eve and be standing on top of Kilimanjaro to watch the sunrise on the first day of 2017.
So while my family and thousands of others around the world will be nursing their post Christmas Day hangovers I will be flying to Tanzania on 26th December 2016 and start my climb on 27th December with the goal of reaching the summit to see the sunrise on 1st January 2017, seeing in the New Year on top of the world, or at the very least the "Roof of Africa"!
Climbing Kilimanjaro may not be a technical climb like an ascent of Everest, but it is nonetheless a tough climb that requires a high level of fitness and stamina. In addition to the physical stress of the climb there is the added complication of altitude sickness because of the low oxygen levels the higher up you climb. A very high percentage of climbers fail to complete the climb and get to the summit because of altitude sickness, fatigue and or injury. So I am under no illusion that this is not going to be a "stroll in the park", and I will have to draw upon all my energy reserves, fitness training and some "true grit" to get to the top and back down again.
- 26th December - Depart from Heathrow Airport UK for Tanzania
- 27th December - Arrive in Moshi (800m), the staging point for the climb
- 28th December - Start the climb from Machame Gate through humid rainforest to the camp at Machame Hut (2980m)
- 29th December - Trek from Machame Hut to Shira Hut (3850m)
- 30th December - Ascent to Lava Tower before descending to Barranco Camp as part of the acclimatization process
- 31st December - Scaling the Barranco Wall before arriving at Base Camp Barafu (4673m). Early dinner before a few hours rest ahead of final ascent.
- 1st January - Just after midnight, begin summit climb. At Stella Point witnessing the first sunrise of 2017. One last push up the steep snow covered slopes and into the clouds to reach the Roof of Africa – Uhuru Peak (5895m). After savouring the moment, some photos and celebrating the achievement starting the descent back to Mweka Hut campsite.
- 2nd January - Trek to Mweka Gate while celebrating with the guides and porters before returning to Moshi. Back at the hotel time to have a the first hot shower (after 6 days) and a celebratory dinner before retiring to sleep in a proper comfy bed instead of a sleeping bag on the side of a rocky mountain outcrop.
- 3rd January - Transfer to airport for flight back to UK to see our families.
Why have I decided to climb Kilimanjaro and why am I doing it for Sue Ryder?
The personal challenge in climbing this iconic mountain is to push myself to my physical limits in order to prove to myself, my family, my friends, work colleagues and other people that you can make a huge change to your life at any age and achieve things you never dreamed of including climbing mountains! I want to show that by reducing my weight after gastric surgery I have turned my life around and by climbing Kilimanjaro I hope I can inspire other people to tackle their obesity either through diet and exercise or as in my case gastric surgery, and do more.
The helping others challenge is to raise vital funds for the Sue Ryder charity. Sue Ryder supports people living with life-limiting and long-term conditions including brain injury, cancer, dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease. They provide community based care as well as a number of palliative care centres including one at Thorpe Hall, Peterborough close to where I live. The Thorpe Hall hospice has helped my friends and relatives in their final weeks of life, giving them care that is second to none and dignity in their final hours. The care and support provided by Sue Ryder staff around the UK to the terminally ill and their families at the most difficult of times is priceless.
In undertaking this 7 day climb my goal is to raise in excess of £3,250 for Sue Ryder to help them to continue to do their great work, and this
is where I need your help as a sponsor. I would be grateful if you could support my Mt Kilimanjaro climb by sponsoring me. Please do let others know about my climb and their support and sponsorship would be greatly appreciated.