Monday, October 24, 2011

Orcadian Kilimanjaro Article

Here is the article I submitted to my local paper in Orkney about my new adventure to climb Kilimanjaro next summer.


Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stay still for long; I always have to have an adventure planned. I have no real long term goal and no proper career plan in mind as being stuck doing the same thing makes me shudder in fear. For example; Although I am studying biology at the University of Dundee I think being an airline pilot would be the best job in the world but that is only if I fail at becoming a wildlife photographer or travel journalist. All in all I just want is too have an interesting story to tell at the end.

I was into my second year at university and it had been two years since my last big expedition, I had spent the summer working every-day in my mother’s cafĂ© in Hoy and the novelty of being at university has begun to wear off. I needed a new fun project so set my sights on, and an exciting new place to go. Then one day in September, I got an email tempting me with an information evening for a charity climb up Mount. Kilimanjaro. The email didn’t say much more than that, and naturally I spent a few days “deciding” but I think at the moment I read the email I knew what my answer was going to be.

At the information evening I found out that the charity Childreach International were offering around twenty students from the university of Dundee to climb the world’s highest free-standing mountain next summer. The trip will cover 10 days; 6 days including the trek and 2 days either side to prepare/recover and to visit projects where the money we raise will go as well as 8 days independently funded travel around Africa. Childreach International is a registered international development charity providing community based development for children around the world including access to healthcare, education and human rights. They work in nine countries around the world with companies to establish community-based development projects to help children reach their full potential no matter their background, race or gender.

Kilimanjaro is found in Tanzania sitting proud next to the border with Kenya. Kilimanjaro is made up of three-volcanic peaks; Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi, where Kibo is the highest of the three at 5,895m above sea level. The trek will take me through three different eco-zones starting with a lush rainforest at the base, a dry lunar landscape and finally the snow-capped peak. There are six official trekking routes each with different difficulties and success rates. We will be taking the Machame route which is one of the longest but this is due to having a higher summit-success rate. Four days are spent walking through the day, on average six hours per day, until the fifth day where we will endure a night climb starting around midnight and aiming to reach the summit in time for breakfast to watch the sunrise. The descent will only take one day as we don’t have to take acclimatisation into consideration and we can finally have a well-earned rest in the hotel.

Other than the initial buzz of a spontaneous decision, I took up the challenge because it is one of those “once in a life time” opportunities and I don’t think I will get many chances to go to Africa again! Myself, like most children, dreamt of experiencing the real “Lion King” after exhausting my parents of the film, either that or repeatedly asking for a pet Lion or Zebra.

Compared to mainstream adventure travel companies, this charity offers a very reasonable fundraising target which is a very important factor as a student! It’s like getting a reward for raising so much for a good cause! I also get the chance to go with people I know and a group of like-minded people all studying at Dundee. Other than actually climbing the mountain I am most excited about the opportunity to fund our own independent travel for 8 days afterwards. Here we can do anything from a safari to sunbathing on the island of Zanzibar! I am currently looking into doing a safari for a few days to keep my camera happy and if my savings allow me, perhaps a trip to Rwanda or Uganda to see Mountain gorillas.

Our departure date is the 14th July 2012 when we will depart from Heathrow and fly to Nairobi, Kenya before a 6-7 hour bus ride to Moshi, Tanzania at the foot of the hill. However like any adventure, the adventure starts before you arrive. The trip will be physically demanding for my muscles, asthma and immune system; I have to get a total of eight vaccinations as well as taking anti-malarial’s. Although the success rate of the route I am taking is high there is still a one-in-five chance of not reaching the top, but with plenty of aerobic training it is more likely. The thought of having to turn back a mere 300m from the famous wooden sign at Uhuru Point would be devastating, so I have begun training already by getting on the treadmill for a half-hour run every-day! Each of us have to raise around £2,500 each, where £1,990 will go straight to projects by Childreach international and the rest is for flights. We are hoping to reach our target by having some group fundraising events in Dundee as well as some at home, sponsorship and out of our own pocket. For my expedition to Norway with the British School’s Exploring Society I experienced the generosity of people in Orkney as they helped me raise over £4000 towards my scientific research adventure in the Arctic. However, as I am based in Dundee for the majority of the year, organising events in Orkney is rather difficult but watch this space! At the moment I am only hoping to generate an interest with those at home and I hope they are excited as I am!

Anyone who is interested in donating something towards my(Rose’s) climb can do-so at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rosematheson
For more information on the charity and what they do you can visit their website: www.childreach.org.uk

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