I’ll start the first post with a bang, shall I? Next summer, several members of the University of Stirling and I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro after raising £3000 each for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR).
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain on Earth and the highest point in Africa, at 5,894 metres (19,341 feet). Bulging out from the savannah, this dormant volcano is a child of the Great Rift Valley and an incredibly respected and revered summit for climbers.
Today was the first official meeting for those who might consider getting involved in fundraising for AICR. A representative of the charity gave a talk on what would be expected of us, what we could expect from them and what would be provided in the way of supplies and accommodation. July 2014 will see me taking an eight-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya then a seven-hour bus ride to get over the border into Tanzania. One night in a hotel and then we bid civilisation and indoor plumbing goodbye and begin our trek through the safety and warmth of the jungle canopy to the freezing temperatures of the Uhuru Peak.
I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I don’t find this challenge daunting. I’ve never done anything this demanding in my life and I know that I will be greatly tested within the next year. Not only do I have to raise a monumental amount of money on my own but I will have to be at my most physically fit to reach the summit. Altitude sickness kicks in at around 3,000 metres which is unfortunately only the half-way point. Acclimatisation to the thinning oxygen levels is the reason why it will take 4.5 days to reach the summit and only 1.5 to get back down. We’ll be getting through around 3 litres of water per day and eating our weight in carbs daily to keep our energy levels up and the symptoms of altitude sickness at bay.
However, despite the difficulties I will face, the benefits far outweigh them. Cancer has affected an uncomfortably high number of people in my family so the chance to raise what could collectively end up over£30,000 from one trip is an offer I can’t refuse.
While the climb itself will be immensely rewarding, I am also extremely excited to go on safari and experience African culture for the first time. I am going to ensure I make the most of my trip to east Africa and if everything goes to plan, I’ll be sunning myself on a beach in Zanzibar, feeling extremely proud of myself!