Conquering Kilimanjaro! Your Jane Smith team update

Last month you likely read about Nicola’s epic challenge to climb Kilimanjaro in aid of a local Bedford charity.

In this month’s team update, read about how Nicola got on and catch up on all the exciting news from her adventure.

You’ll also find the latest fundraising total for the Bedford & District Cerebral Palsy Society (BDCPS). Plus, news about how you can donate, and help us pick our charity partner for 2024.

First up, and without further ado, let’s catch up with Nicola.

We know you’ve barely had the chance to unpack but we need to know – How was the trip?

“The trip was amazing! A huge personal challenge and an incredible experience in a beautiful country. And best of all, we made it to the top!

“As the days progress, you go through so many emotions and in this ever-changing terrain. We started in the rainforest where we saw all kinds of monkeys (we got weed on by one as we stood underneath taking photos!), birds and other wildlife.

Then we moved into heather and moorland across the Shira Plateau. There were amazing rock formations and the famous – not to mention hair-raising – Barranco Wall.

Finally, the peak itself, which we approached across the icefields. The first glimpses of the summit and snowfields around the peak were amazing – it seemed a very long way off and then crept closer every day.”

Aside from the weeing monkey, what else surprised you on the trip?

“When we started, I was intrigued about why we needed 16 people to get four of us up to the summit.

“But then, when you understand that we had two guides, a chef, someone in charge of all our daily needs, someone in charge of the shower and toilet, and then a huge team to manage and make ready all our kit – tents, food, and everything we needed for the full eight days – it starts to make sense.

“The team literally carried everything, racing past us, setting up and then taking down the camp every day. An incredible effort from all of them!”

We’ve been Googling the Barranco Wall and we’re terrified for you. Was the rest of the climb as challenging as you’d imagined?

“The first five days were relatively easy trekking. There were some steeper climbs, but all done “pole pole” (slowly, slowly) to make sure that we were well acclimatised.

“On day five, though, the wind started to pick up. Keeping our tents in one piece was proving challenging – we eventually lost the toilet tent completely. And getting a night’s sleep was difficult with the noise of the wind and tents and furniture flying around the campsite!

“By day six, conditions had deteriorated even more. After a morning trek to our new campsite, the team made a fresh assessment. Deciding that we were happy, fit, and able to move on, a planned rest was abandoned. Instead, we headed straight to the summit, some 10 hours ahead of schedule.

“It was a good job we did. Other groups who decided to leave later either had to abandon their climbs or made the decision to not even start the final ascent to the summit.

“The next six hours were easily the hardest and most challenging. And then at 8 pm we finally reached the summit.

“It was pitch black, with a wind chill of around -15C to -20C and severe gusts. We didn’t stick around long and quickly turned to begin the descent, another three hours back to camp. (Far quicker than on the way!)”

If you can choose just one, what was your challenge highlight?

“The best bit should have been the summit, but we were so tired and cold by that point that it’s all a bit of a blur.

“And the next day was equally challenging. Around seven hours, all downhill. The knees and calves certainly felt it.

“But there was elation as we reached the final signs to confirm we’d got both up and down safely!”

How instrumental was your training and preparation?

“I’ve always been quite a goal-driven person. Knowing that I had something to aim for, I committed to the training to get the results I wanted.

“On the summit day, the goals became much smaller, but they kept me going nonetheless – walk 40 steps to have a 10-second breather!”

And finally, how do you feel about the current total for your chosen charity?

“I’m delighted with the amount raised for charity, now more than £3,500. The rest of the team did a great job too, completing their virtual challenge. It’s been a brilliant team effort all round.

“And BDCPS are so grateful for everyone’s support and donations!

“If you’d like to donate, you still can, using our Just Giving page.”

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