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Africa’s tallest mountain climbed

Published on 31 Jan 2024

RAF veteran Ian, 57 and from Witney in Oxfordshire, travelled to Tanzania to take on Africa’s highest mountain to raise money for our charity.

Just ten days ago, he met ten complete strangers in a hotel in Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro who were all set to take on the challenge for their own individual charities. Ian says:

“Our first job was to empty our bags and spread our clothing and equipment out by the hotel pool so the guide could check we had packed all that we needed to make it to the top.
“The temperature would range from 32 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the mountain to a possible minus 20 degrees at the top so it was important we were prepared.”
Ian alongside the other climbers all smiling under the Mount Kilimanjaro peak sign
At the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
A selection of tents all glowing due to torch lights inside, high on the side of the mountain
Camping on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro
The group of climbers use walking poles to help them through the snow and ice near the top of Mount Kilimanjaro
The group climb over ice and snow

The group set off the following day. It took them five and a half days to reach the summit. Ian says:

“The slower the ascent, the more chance we had of succeeding and not being affected by altitude sickness. We walked around eight hours a day, climbing 1,000 metres but then coming back down 500 metres to acclimatise.
“The final climb to the top was the longest day. We had a two-hour cat nap and then set off at 11pm and climbed for over eight hours in the dark with head torches to reach the top in time for the sunrise. After we had spent time at the top taking photos and looking around, we then walked for three hours down the mountain before stopping.

“The total height of Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,340ft. I was in the RAF for 33 years and have climbed a few mountains, but this was the tallest. One of the group counted their steps to have been 192,000 from start to finish."
“It was very hard physically. Towards the top a simple task like putting your sleeping bag back in its cover would leave you completely out of breath."

Ian continued:

“We were well looked after and accompanied by a guide and a medic plus a group of porters who went ahead each day to set up camp and prepare the food.
“I have an amazing sense of achievement to have reached the top, both as part of the team and as an individual. I left with new friends for life; between us we achieved something great. To have raised this money for Blind Veterans UK is the icing on the cake.”

Why Ian decided to support our charity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ian and his partner became part of a local volunteer group which provided assistance to those who were isolating. During this time they met blind veteran Norman who is supported by us. Ian said:

“As we got to know Norman, it became apparent that the assistance he had received from Blind Veterans UK since being registered blind in 2013 had made an amazing difference in improving his quality of life.

“Norman joined the Navy at 16 in 1947 and served for nine years. He then had a 27-year career with the police service. He is now 92 and is my inspiration for taking on this challenge for Blind Veterans UK.
“My partner kept Norman up to date on my progress while I was away and I rang him as soon as I got back. He’s ecstatic and we’ll be taking him out for lunch this weekend to bore him with the pictures.”

The organisation Ian works for, Babcock International, donated £2,000 towards Ian's £5,000 target which Ian is just £600 short of reaching. You can show your support to Ian and help him reach his target. 

Visit Ian's Just Giving page

Are you inspired by Ian to take on your own challenge?

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