As some of you may know, one of the major challenges which I am aiming to take on as part of my mission to raise £1 Million for Cancer Research UK is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, Africa. It is the tallest mountain in continental Africa and also the tallest free standing mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro stands at 5895m or 19341ft and was first climbed in 1889. To try and give that some kind of context, Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the UK stands at 1345m or 4411ft. In mountaineering terms Kilimanjaro is a somewhat simple mountain to climb as it doesn’t require a great deal of technical climbing and rope work.
Kilimanjaro is a massive challenge however and something which I am not taking lightly. The biggest danger with climbing a mountain of that size is the possibility of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS) or referred to commonly as altitude sickness. AMS typically occurs above 2400 meters of 8000ft. Unfortunately there is very little way of predicting how someone will cope at altitude. In order to minimise my chances of developing it I will need to try and train and eat foods that increase my red blood cells that will help carry the oxygen around my body. Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain I have climbed to date and is a little more than half of the altitude where most people begin to experience the effects of AMS.
Another crucial part of gaining success in high altitude climbing is acclimatisation. You have to take time and allow your body to adapt to the lowering levels of oxygen in the air. If you don’t give yourself time to acclimatise then your body will find it significantly harder to function at altitude.
It is my intention to climb Kilimanjaro with guides from a British based mountaineering company who will hopefully help guide me to the summit. The climb will take around 14 days, possibly slightly less. I am hopeful that my holiday allocation for next year will be available soon and I can look at booking the trip and getting it firmly added to the diary.
It has long been an ambition of mine to climb Kilimanjaro and I think it fits what I am trying to achieve perfectly. It will be an immense physical and mental challenge which will be one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken. There are a number of other mountains around the world which I am keen to attempt, but, given my lack of experience at these altitudes I felt it sensible to take on a mountain that had a slightly lower technical skill requirement.
I firmly believe that whilst it is important to set challenging goals for yourself they must also be realistic ones that you can achieve. I think it would be pretty foolish to say that I was going to summit Mount Everest at this stage. Whilst it would be an incredible experience to attempt and achieve the summit of the worlds highest peak I do not have the experience nor the fitness to attempt a mountain like that at the present time. I think Kilimanjaro is a good starting point for a first high altitude summit. We must all be dreamers however. Maybe one day I will attempt Mount Everest, I suspect it would more than likely be as a way of raising money for Cancer Research UK. Climbing mountains like that is also horrifically expensive and would require massive corporate sponsorship. But that’s an idea for the future and I shall concentrate on Kili for the time being!
We must dare to dream and dare to be different. If you have a positive approach you can achieve anything. This is something that I genuinely believe in. I know so many people who have positively fought cancer and won their battles. We should take their positivity and thirst for life as an inspiration and use it to drive ourselves forward and achieve the things we never thought we could. Why? Well the more people engage in research and push the boundaries of what we believe to be possible, the sooner we will beat cancer and prevent the suffering of patients, their families and their friends. The day we finally beat cancer is coming and we can all help by doing our little bit. By donating even just £1 we are helping bring that day closer and that excites me.
Nothing is impossible when we put our minds to it. No task is too big or too complicated. Sometimes things take time, but that does not make them impossible.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela
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