Earlier this year Helen and John decided to sign up for the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The charity is very close to their hearts with both having parents who suffered from cancer. Helen’s father sadly passed away from cancer and Helen herself bravely battled it for five years before getting the all clear in 2016. To take on this challenge and raise as much money as possible was something they wanted to do to help more people get the all clear.
To prepare for the challenge, Helen and John did lots of training. This included hard walks and treks every weekend, weekly personal training sessions and many trips to the gym. They worked hard to prepare themselves the best they could for what was ahead.
The climb took place on the 18th of September and lasted 11 days. It included 7 days trekking the stunning Rongai Route, taking in some of Tanzania’s most spectacular sights before reaching the mountain’s peak. The challenge was tough, the temperatures were between minus 7 and minus 15 degrees and the altitude sickness really took its toll on some of the climbers, with only a few people from their team feeling strong enough to reach the peak of 5,895 metres.
Both Helen and John say it’s the hardest thing they have ever accomplished and they would deffinitely think twice before adding another such difficult challenge to their bucket list! Read below to see what they say about the challenge…
“The climb, I have to say, is one of the hardest things both myself and John have ever taken on – both mentally and physically. We started the 7-day climb, with a bit of a spring in our step. By day two this had slowed somewhat to a straight forward step-by-step, then going forward it was a needs must to get the task complete and just put one foot in front of the other. The summit climb, from base camp to the highest point was a real endurance test… We all set off at 11.30pm, the stars filled the skies above us and the faint lights of Kenya and Tanzania twinkled to our right down below. We were lucky to have a clear sky overhead, but this made the temperature plummet and our fingers and toes froze! Eventually the dawn started to break and by 6.30am we reached the first point towards the top of the mountain – Gilman’s Point – with the stunning sunrise over the Serengeti and the mountains below, we believed at this point we had reached the top! But no… another two hours or more to reach the actual mountain top! It then took every little ounce of sheer determination and pure bloody mindedness to reach this point. I actually think we were too worn out to realise what we had really achieved when we reached the top. Then we had to get back down, now that was another story… We had laughter, we had tears, we watched as people suffered from the awful effects of altitude sickness, but I have to say we will never forget the challenge, the people, the country and the sights we were privileged enough to encounter. But all of this was done to raise money for an incredible charity, one that tirelessly tries to research cures for cancer… Cancer Research UK… So anything we went through was so irrelevant compared to all the people who face cancer and the challenges that brings to people everyday.” Helen
“I would say without doubt this was the hardest physical and mental challenge that I have ever met! Having now done it and knowing what it actually entails, I seriously don’t think I could do it again because I now know what I would have to do…if that makes sense. The summit day started at half past 11 at night as we set off up the scree slopes to Gilman’s Point. After seven hours of continual climbing we managed to reach the point just before sunrise. By this time we literally felt we had climbed Kilimanjaro but we were informed that there was still more to do! After another two hours of incredibly difficult and steep climbing we reached the Summit – Uhuru Point (at 5,895m the highest point). It was with immense pride that Helen and I had our photograph taken at the “top of Africa”. But that’s not the end of summit day, for as the saying goes “what goes up, must come down”. It was with some urgency that we started our descent, after been told by our team leader to get down quickly as we had been at the summit too long! And so the descent started and finished just before midday – just over 12 hours after we started! If that was not enough, after a brief rest and a bite to eat we then had a further three-hour trek further down the mountain to Horombo Camp – needless to say we did sleep well that night!” John
All the Kit and Kaboodal team are glad to have Helen and John back and are so proud of them for their huge achievement. So many of you have supported their climb and made generous donations on the fundraising page. They are so grateful for all the money sent and to know they have raised over £7,000 for Cancer Research UK has made the whole challenge worthwhile. There’s no doubt that your support helped keep them going on those last few steps to the top – and then back down again! Click here to see how much they have raised so far.
Don’t forget, if you want to catch up with Helen and John about the trip and have some fun with all the Kit and Kaboodal team you can come along to our Kit and Kaboodal Pub Quiz at The Anchor Inn on the 22nd October at 7.30pm. The money raised from ticket sales and a raffle will go towards the Kilimanjaro fundraising page. Click here to find out more.
Lots of love,
Kit and Kaboodal