Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Anyone who’s trekked around Mount Teide’s upper slopes will know only too well that the least bit of exertion leaves you gasping for air as though the breath has been stolen from your lungs by a mischievous mountain imp. Climb the mighty mountain from the estancia de los ingleses all the way to the summit and by the time the pointy peak is within touching distance, the imp has made off with the bones from your legs as well, leaving useless rubbery things in their place.

For those of us who have been through this painful, but exhilarating experience and are unlikely to pencil it into our “˜things to do on Tenerife’ list for quite some time, the idea of adding a gruelling extra 1000 metres to the ascent seems like sheer madness. But that’s exactly what a team from Tenerife did when they exchanged tackling Spain’s highest peak, Mount Teide for its African counterpart, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Subjecting yourself to the buckets of blood, sweat and tears that’s part and parcel of climbing mountains like Kilimanjaro is one of those masochistic activities that begs the question, why? For some, the classic climber’s response is “˜because it is there’. However, for James and Karen Beckley and Dougie Kirkwood from the Pearly Grey Ocean Club in Callao Salvaje and Tenerife wine distributor Troy Gerrity, the reasons for pushing themselves beyond the limits of exhaustion came from more altruistic motivations. They climbed Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and money for a charity called Ingane Yami which means “˜my child’ in Zulu. Ingane Yami is the name of a village in South Africa which will be built specifically to give orphaned children, particularly those made parentless by the AIDS epidemic, a safe environment in which to blossom into adulthood.

Ingane Yami Children

For anyone planning on climbing to a height where they can almost touch the stars, there are few more suitable training grounds than Tenerife’s mountainous countryside. In preparation for Kilimanjaro’s oxygen starved air, Dougie and Troy trekked through the pine forests above Vilaflor before testing their physical reactions to high altitude hiking on Mount Teide. Many people don’t handle walking at high altitudes very well, but Dougie and Troy reported feeling none of the usual symptoms of altitude sickness; something they partly attributed to being well stocked with chocolate, brandy and whiskey ““ not your average mountaineers’ supplies.

Their preparations on Tenerife paid off and on the 8th December the Pearly Grey team dragged themselves to the top of Africa and the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

It’s inspiring and humbling when you hear about people who push themselves to their physical and mental limits purely to help others. And it seems especially poignant at this time of year. Actions like this renew faith in human nature and it’s commendable that Pearly Grey donated this month’s fantastic prize, a week’s holiday in a luxury apartment at the resort, to promote Ingane Yami’s cause. The least we can do in response is to become a fan of Ingane Yami on Facebook and help support Africa’s orphaned children in the process.

Isn’t it heart-warming to know that the spirit of Christmas is alive and”¦ well, if not exactly kicking, at least hobbling about on the top of a snow clad mountain in Africa.

“Sinifisela Ukhisimuzi Omuhle” ““ you’ll have to Google that if you want to know what it means.

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