Kilimanjaro Champions

On 17 March, in high spirits with hope of having the luck of the Irish, 18 trekkers flew to Tanzania to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for our life changing work. The group made up of a range of supporters, friends and donors met at Heathrow ready for the challenge.

The group took on the tough five day route (pretty much straight up and down the mountain) pushing themselves to limits they didn’t know existed. The trip began with a positive upbeat journey to the hotel and words of support, determination and ‘one in all in’ pep talks meant the group were ready. The briefing from Intrepid tour operator Justiz got everyone thinking about the reality of the mental and physical challenge ahead but also the words of encouragement meant all had a restful night ahead of the ‘big climb’.

The ascend consisted of two days of 6-7 hours trekking over a variety of terrain with a gradual incline though steep and rocky at points, a gentle entrance to day three, known as summit day to the tour company but day of anxiety for the trekkers. In the day, the group trekked 7 hours to make it to Kibo hut, the base of the summit. After another briefing, the group had a few hours to mentally prepare and sleep before starting the summit at midnight. Not easy with a group sharing a hut and getting dressed for the temperature and pain the summit would put everyone through. As midnight arrived, the group lined up and stuck together for 2 hours. After this each person took their own time to reach the top. Some suffered with altitude sickness, some fatigue, some shortness of breath, some dizziness and some all of the above, however, slowly but surely the trekkers prevailed, passing unsuccessful climbers on the way that couldn’t make it. ‘Pole-pole’ is what the locals say, meaning slowly, slowly in Swahili; exactly what the group did but made it in the time frame and most of the group all the way to Uhuru, the furthest peak.

A quick descend; 6 hours back to Horombo hut, a night of sleep and a 20 kilometre walk later, the group were at the bottom of the mountain unable to comprehend what they had achieved over five days. It’s impossible not to give them all a ‘shout out’:

Fast feet Kate and Marcella – the heroines of the group, powering through and keeping up with Uncle Sam the tour guide that pushed you more than you think you could go.

Mark and Josh – father and son, ignoring age gaps and creating memories for life, inspiring us all.

Young guns – Jonny and Sam the uni graduates putting student life on hold to make a difference so other young people can be inspired to be like them.

Alex and Jaime – the unstoppable couple! Alex’s continued support for TCF has led us to new friends but also to remember our late friend Graeme Porteus. We did you proud Graeme!

Super women – Emma whose medical box and positive energy kept us going. Swati whose quiet strength peaked on summit day, amazing. Deborah who incredibly fought the pain and pushed through all the way to the top.

The Firestarter’s – Chris thank you for being one of the people to make this happen and fighting through the pain on the way down. Tony for bringing the experience and comfort to the group (and the marmite), plus the all-important Surrey hill training trek.

Survivor Stuart – who defied all odds and rose from a crater after reaching the top! Amazing.

TCF team – last but not least the Gaffer Andy, Bassie, Ryan and Nav representing the charity that really does change lives. All in a day’s work!

The group raised over £35,000, an incredible success; friendships for life formed and so many milestones conquered. Congratulations to the amazing trekkers and thank you to all who donated and supported the group.

If you wish to join TCF future challenges, please contact Alex Bassan