The Climb To The Top

Taking on Mount Kilimanjaro

Sally Wilkinson has been lucky (and brave!) enough to take on some incredible challenges over the years, from the Great Wall of China Trek to Peru, Vietnam and Nepal, but one of her biggest challenges to date is the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro Trek! We spoke to her about her incredible journey to the top and the struggles she faced along the way…

Why this challenge?

I am very lucky to have experienced a lot of overseas challenges first hand but Kilimanjaro, or Kili as it’s affectionately referred to, was always my ultimate challenge and when I was given the chance to stand on top of the World’s highest freestanding mountain I couldn’t wait!

What was it like?

Everything I expected and more! You can see Kili as you fly into Kilimanjaro airport so from the very minute you arrive the summit is there as an ultimate goal. Once you are on the mountain thankfully everything is taken care of so we only had to think about walking from a-b. With the altitude it can be hard work just trekking at times so the fact lunch is waiting for you and your tent is already up at the end of a long day is such a luxury (if you can have luxury on the side of a mountain!) plus your fellow trekkers and the amazing porters and guides keep you going.

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What was your toughest moment?

Other than going to the toilet in the middle of the night (thank goodness for head torches!) it has to be summit night. You know it’s going to be tough. You set off around midnight with 8 layers of clothing on, as it’s freezing, and just follow the feet of the trekker in front of you. The trail of head torches up the mountain is an unforgettable sight and you walk at an incredibly slow pace due to the increasing height. It can take around 6-7 hours to get to the crater rim and then another hour to get to the summit, but boy is it worth it to take a photo at the famous sign! Trekking to the summit takes both physical and mental strength, you have to keep positive. I planned a trip around Asia in my head on the way up, it kept my mind occupied!

What was your best moment?

Obviously reaching the summit but also meeting my fellow trekkers and the camaraderie and support everyone offered one another. It’s hard to explain the bond that sweeps through the group but I know I couldn’t have done it without that. Several years on we still regularly meet up so the experience lives on!

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What essentials would you advise packing and what couldn’t you have lived without?

A buff, you can use them in so many ways but it was a lifesaver for me on the descent when it got dusty and also my camera. The photos and the memories they hold are so precious to me.

What was the food and accommodation like?

AMAZING! Someone told me before I went that I wouldn’t believe the meals that we would be served from a small mess tent on the side of a mountain and I couldn’t! There was so much to choose from, you definitely can’t go hungry. You are even woken up with a tea or coffee in your tent first thing in the morning!

What would be your advice for anyone wanting to take on this challenge?

Train well, it’s a tough challenge so getting yourself in physical shape before you go is vital. When you get onto the mountain it’s important to take one day at a time. It’s so easy to get focused on the summit but there is a lot of ground and acclimatisation to do before you get there. As the porters would say ‘pole pole’ or ‘slowly slowly’. There’s no better advice than that really!

Would you like the chance to take on this truly unforgettable and incredible challenge for a charity of your choice? Head here for more information or to book your place today!

The next trek will be taking part on 27th September – 7th October 2017. Call 02074 245535 for more information!

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