There are two very important factors that are driving me towards the summit of Kilimanjaro.
The first and most important one is to be able to give poor and disadvantaged children a real chance of bettering themselves through education so that they can attain higher, healthier and happier standards of living as they grow into adulthood and thereby also be able to help support their families. Having been raised in India I have seen at first hand the life endured by children in poverty, and it is an incredibly difficult one.
The second is personal achievement; to prove to myself that I am neither too old nor too creaky (yet!) to be able to successfully accomplish something that is extremely challenging.
GRASMERE (MARCH 2012): That’s me on the left in both the photographs
When I first mentioned the trek to my friends & family, with a unity that I found quite amusing, virtually all of them thought I was absolutely nuts to attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, especially those that know me well and are fully aware of my creaking joints and my bad back.
There were many incredulous comments like:
- At your age??
- With your knees??
- But you don’t do cold!! (this is true, I am very much a warm weather person)
- You don’t even walk down to the shops!! (also true, thank you sister-in law)
After some reflection they started saying things like:
- That’s a pretty amazing thing to do!
- How can we help?
Then all the questions started so I decided to develop this website (in April 2012) to provide as much information as possible to everyone.
The truth of the matter is that I have wanted to do a really tough challenge for a very long time. Whilst I was at boarding school in the UK I missed out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Spitzbergen, a Norwegian island located in the Arctic Ocean, and have always regretted it.
As I grew older, family and work commitments took priority and all thoughts of challenges & adventure were shelved. That was until a few months ago when a colleague, who had just had a hip replacement operation, stood up on stage at a Lyoness conference and asked the audience if anyone wanted to join him on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. My hand was up in the air in a split second, even before my brain had kicked into gear. In that instant I completely forgot about my knee and elbow operations, my 30 year old back problem and my dodgy ankle; all I could think of was standing on the top of Kilimanjaro with a team of great people and a big smile on my face.
Of course since then reality has kicked in, and I now realise just how daunting this trek will be. It has been described as one of the most challenging non-technical climbs (ie without specialist climbing equipment), primarily due to the high altitude but also due to the incredibly low temperatures at the summit, not to mention the long distances covered and the tremendous height climbed over the 6 days. The toughest aspect will be the mental challenge of keeping going especially on the final climb to the summit, but that is a very minor problem in comparison to the challenges faced by so many impoverished children today.
Good preparation will be essential to the successful completion of the trek. I have already started my training (in Jan 2012), walking a minimum of 10 miles (16 Km) a week, and doing strength and flexibility exercises at the gym several times a week.
In March 2012 I spent a day with my colleagues up in the hills around Grasmere for my first taste of hill walking in a very long time. Grasmere is a beautiful part of the Lake District in the UK and we hiked for about 7 hours, up and down the hills in very changeable weather conditions from sunshine (not much though, this is the UK!) to heavy rain and bitingly cold winds.
There will be more training hikes around the UK in the coming months and I will begin a much more rigorous training schedule 16 weeks before we fly out to Tanzania.