Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
12 November 2010
As UK financial advisers and wealth managers, we’re used to providing financial help – but recently, two of our number found themselves helping out in very different way.
On 14th October 2010, a team of civilian amputees, friends and healthcare professionals embarked on the challenge of a lifetime: to overcome their personal limitations and climb to the summit of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Kilimanjaro.
The team of amputees scaled these heights to raise money for Limbpower, a charity set up to enable new amputees to participate in sport to aid their rehabilitation.
Backed by healthcare professionals including prosthetists, a physiotherapist, a doctor and a clinical scientist, the expedition summed up the ethos of LimbPower, helping and inspiring newly disabled people to get back out into the world and see their disability as a challenge, not a barrier to life.
We’re delighted to say that two Welbeck Group people were part of the climb. Practice Manager Cathy Booth takes up the story. “I have been involved with amputees for over eight years; I had the idea of this challenge in August last year and it went from there. The main aim is to inspire others and to show that there are no boundaries when it comes to disability. Our group consisted of six amputees.
“The chosen route was the Rongai Route which starts just south of the Kenya-Tanzania border. After arriving at the Marangu National Park gate we set off into the wilderness but felt very safe in the hands of experienced Tanzanian guides and porters from The African Walking Company. Each day we climbed higher and higher and although we were entering the rainy season, each morning at 6.30am you could see the peak of Kilimanjaro above the clouds. We all successfully reached base camp, Kibo on Day 5 at 4,700m after a 7 hour walk across the Saddle in rain, sleet and then snow in temperatures below freezing! To reach base camp safely was an incredible achievement and then we set off again at 11pm at night to attempt the summit climb. With intense altitude and weather conditions we all pushed ourselves to the ultimate limit with seven members of the group reached Uhuru Peak.
“It was a fantastic experience and we’re very proud of everyone and their achievements. Thank you to Welbeck advisors for their support and donations.”
Along with Cathy was Financial Adviser Jim Kelly. He comments: “I got involved after having a conversation with Cathy at Christmas time. She told me what the charity does and asked me if I wanted to join the expedition. I had no hesitation in accepting.
“The whole experience was very positive and humbling; seeing how the amputees on the trip had to work and concentrate so hard with every step over every sort of terrain really put any tiredness, fatigue I was experiencing into perspective. Four nights and five days of trekking through rainforest, paddy fields, 700 metre inclines into altitude was challenging but enjoyable. Then base camp and the evening of the summit climb. We arrived at 3pm in the afternoon after walking for seven hours.
“After some soup and a rest in the tent, we set off for the summit at 1130pm. The temperatures were minus something, I had every bit of clothing on that I had with me. After about 90 minutes, we stopped for a short rest and water. I’d been told to put my water bottle upside down as it will freeze from the top down. Of course I forgot to do this and my valve for taking in water had completely frozen. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else, plus I didn’t want to take their water – which meant 12 hours walking ahead of me with no fluids. Another two hours passed before stopping again. I had shed two-thirds of my layers by this stage as it was getting steeper and the air was getting thinner. It was at this stage that I realised we had lost almost half the group: through fatigue, altitude sickness or the sheer technical difficulty of the climb.
“We reached Gilman’s Point at 0600 just as the sun was rising below us, above the clouds. We seemed to have timed it perfectly. The sight of the fluffy clouds 1000 meters below us with the sun rising was truly worth the last six hours 30 minutes of hell. As the sun continued to rise it lit up the rest of the crater. At this stage we were down to eight people. I was more than happy to call it a day there; I felt I had achieved something already by getting to the first point of the top. If anyone was about to quit, I was ready to go back down with them. Then I recognised Damian: one of our group members, a below-the-knee amputee. That was enough to spur me on to Uhura Peak. We all arrived at the top of Africa at 0800.
“Looking back, the whole experience was one of the best of my life. The summit climb was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – but it was worth it. And I raised £600 from Welbeck for the charity.”