Our colleague George has been an inspiration to us all for his most recent fundraising initiative. George, a university student, who has worked with us for 2 years in our stocktaking division, set himself a challenge to reach the Mt Kilimanjaro summit to raise much needed funds for his chosen charity Mind. George’s blog gives a fascinating account of how incredibly demanding the 6 day trek is, yet through his perseverance and determination he has raised over £3,000 to support people across the UK suffering mental health problems.
Day 1 – The starting point for our 6-day trek was the Machame Gate (1,800m) deep in the Montane rainforest which surrounds Mount Kilimanjaro. The trek would take 4 to 5 hours to our first camp at the Machame Hut (3,000m).
Day 2 – A 5:45am start with a pot of hot water for washing and a bowl of hot porridge to start the day. The hike took us along the Machame ridge line allowing spectacular views from above the clouds towards our camp next for the night at Shira Cave (3,750m)
Day 3 – To help with altitude acclimation we took a steady pace to 4,400m followed by a decent to Baranco Camp (3,900m), in total this leg took roughly 9 hours with Baranco giving everyone first sight of our target; the summit.
Day 4 – The start of the day saw us scrambling 700ft up the Great Barranco Wall. At the top, we continued over the ridges and valleys to Karanga Valley before our ascent to Barafu Camp (4,673m), our final camp before summiting….little did we know that we would only get 1.5-hours sleep before our challenging walk to the summit!
Day 5 – Summit day! leaving camp at 23:00, we walked in darkness over the uneven and rocky surfaces, taking one step forward and sliding back two. Members of our team where dropping like flies with altitude sickness; experiencing breathlessness, nausea, headaches, fainting and even hallucinations.
Eventually we made it to Stella Point (5,756m) to watch the incredible sunrise before dragging ourselves towards Uhuru peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m)
The feeling when we all finally reached Uhuru Peak was incredible; from the summit you could see the great Mount Kenya and the glaciers, it was incredibly cold at around -20 degrees and oxygen levels were down to 50% rendering us physically exhausted.
Of the 33 who started the trek, only 23 made it to the top, which was incredibly difficult for those who put so much effort in to be left behind. The experience however was amazing and much more challenging than I ever thought it would be.
Our final total fundraising total for Mind was £3,159 in which RAS & VAS raised an astonishing £1,496! I can’t thank everyone enough for their support and generosity for. The money raised will go to supporting people across the UK suffering mental health problems.