Conquering Kilimajaro for Oli

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AN intrepid team of local climbers raised £13,000 for the Oliver Curd Trust by taking on the challenge of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Trust, which provides respite breaks for seriously ill children and their families, was set up in memory of Oliver Curd, from Peasmarsh, who dies aged nine from a rare cancer.

Team member Clive Whetherley-Moody said: “Words are totally inadequate to describe the hardship faced

by the team of twelve people climbing Kilimanjaro. Reading the itinery it sounded quite straight forward, how wrong could we be?

“This mountain is the highest single standing mountain in the world spreading vast distances in every direction. Consequently, the team trekked for days over difficult mountain terrain before an attempt on the summit could be made.

“When we finally arrived at Kibo Hut (4700 metres above sea level) our base camp for the final push, the effects of the altitude had fully kicked in, including nausea, lack of appetite, headaches and shortness of breath.

“To take our minds off this and the daunting task ahead we were given letters from loved ones back home, cleverly smuggled along by one member of the team. this boosted our spirits, reminding us of Oli and his courageous fight against cancer.

“We then began our hardest most challenging trek yet - a six hour trudge in darkness, along steep zig-zagging paths covered in ice. In the freezing rain, which very soon turns to snow, we are barely able to put one foot in front of the other, as the air becomes thinner.

“Despite being breathless and physically exhausted one of the points drummed into us was PNA (positive mental attitude). Apart from having the right kit and determination PMA turns out to be the single most important factor in achieving the summit.

“We were encouraged by the guides singing African chants and harmonies in the freezing darkness and our determination was renewed.

“Finally, this gruelling ascent was temporarily over, as we emerged at Gillman’s Point via treacherous ice covered rocks just in time for sunrise.

“The sense of elation when we finally step on to the top of this ancient volcano was enormous.

“After a warm drink and dazed congratulations ten of the party decided to go on to Uhuru Peak (5985 metres) another two hours over a snow covered ridge. Two people have to descend due to advanced mountain sickness.

“The rest of the party were blessed with a break in the clouds with gleaming white glaciers to one side and the snow covered volcanic caldera to the other side of the ridge.

“We all remembered why we were there and thought of Oli. After a brief opportunity for a summit photograph we began the long two day descent down scree and mountain slopes before we all become victims of altitude sickness.

“None of us know how we managed it, we had to dig very deep to find the energy to continue but we had a lot of support from friends, family and not least of all the Africa Walking Co. The mountain guides and porters were fantastic.

This group of apparently ordinary people came together to raise money for the Oliver Curd Trust but more than that formed a bond which can only be understood by those who have experienced a challenge such as this.

“The team would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has made donations.

“At the time of writing the Kilimanjaro Team has raised over £13,000 to go towards the running of our existing two holiday homes offering respite holidays to children and parents of children affected by cancer.”

The team was comprised of Richard Curd, Graham Stevens, Chris Ventiroso, Ottilie Ventiroso, Rupert Ventiroso, Chris Ashbee, Alison Corke, Lucy Fraser, Jacob Wattenbach, Clive Wetherley-Moody and David and Laura White.