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CRUK 10K Winter Run 2019 - DONE
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   London Marathon (26.2 miles)

* Sunday 8th September 2019 -   
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Read About My New Years Eve Mt Kilimanjaro Climb for Sue Ryder - The Planning and Preparation - 2016

My challenge for 2015 following gastric surgery in October 2014 was to lose 9 stone in weight in 1 year, as it happens I lost over 10 stone (140 lbs / 65Kg). During this time I became more physically active  walking and cycling, so I set myself a new challenge for 2016.

My challenge for 2016 is to climb Mt Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa at 5895m / 19341 ft (that’s 9688 ft less than Mt Everest and the 4th highest of the famed seven summits). 

At 54 years of age this is the most physically demanding challenge I have set myself and the plan is to start the ascent to the the summit of Kilimanjaro on New Years Eve and be standing on top of Kilimanjaro to watch the sunrise on the first day of 2017.

Climbing Kilimanjaro may not be a technical climb like an ascent of Everest, but it is nonetheless a tough climb that requires a high level of fitness and stamina.  In addition to the physical stress of the climb there is the added complication of altitude sickness because of the low oxygen levels the higher up you climb.  A very high percentage of climbers fail to complete the climb and get to the summit because of altitude sickness, fatigue and or injury.  So I am under no illusion that this is not going to be a "stroll in the park", and I will have to draw upon all my energy reserves, fitness training and some "true grit" to get to the top and back down again.

Why I decided to climb Kilimanjaro and why am I doing it for Sue Ryder?
The personal challenge in climbing this iconic mountain is to push myself to my physical limits in order to prove to myself, my family, my friends, work colleagues and other people that you can make a huge change to your life at any age and achieve things you never dreamed of including climbing mountains!  I want to show that by reducing my weight after gastric surgery I have turned my life around and by climbing Kilimanjaro I hope I can inspire other people to tackle their obesity either through diet and exercise or as in my case gastric surgery, and do more.

The helping others challenge is to raise vital funds for the Sue Ryder charity.  Sue Ryder supports people living with life-limiting and long-term conditions including brain injury, cancer, dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease.  They provide community based care as well as a number of palliative care centres including one at Thorpe Hall, Peterborough close to where I live.  The Thorpe Hall hospice has helped my friends and relatives in their final weeks of life, giving them care that is second to none and dignity in their final hours.   The care and support provided by Sue Ryder staff around the UK to the terminally ill and their families at the most difficult of times is priceless.

In undertaking this 7 day climb my goal is to raise in excess of £3,250 for Sue Ryder to help them to continue to do their great work, and this is where I need your help as a sponsor. I would be grateful if you could support my Mt Kilimanjaro climb by sponsoring me by clicking here or clicking the JustGiving banner at the top of the home page.   Please do let others know about my climb and their support and sponsorship would be greatly appreciated.

I got back from Tanzania late on January 4th 2017 safe, well but extremely tired.  I wish I could say my Mt Kilimanjaro trip was an enjoyable one but the truth is the whole experience was quite brutal.   The climb is not an easy one and mine was made doubly difficult by the fact that I was climbing with the chest infection that I had whilst in the UK some three weeks previously, and which hadn't fully cleared.  As we arrived in Tanzania on Boxing Day the chest infection came back with a vengeance, with sinusitis thrown in for good measure – the worst timing possible.   I was hoping to shake it off as we started to climb in the heat and sun but the weather turned and we ended up climbing in constant rain, sleet and snow, so we had no dry or warm clothes throughout.

Thankfully I was with a great bunch of strangers also climbing for Sue Ryder who became real friends, “The Magnificent Seven” as I called them who along with our team of guides and porters helped me immensely with encouragement to get up the mountain over a 3 day period.   I made it to 4600m (15000ft) around 3/4 way up Kilimanjaro but I was advised by a doctor as I was literally coughing my guts up that I had really ridden my luck to get so high with two lungs working at well below 100% capacity and a sore throat with swollen glands that were now stopping me from eating and even drinking water in the quantities I needed to stay hydrated.   Much as I wanted to go higher than the 4600m mark and try to summit, this was not going to happen as I basically had one fully functional lung  and was told that if I continued there was a high chance of my dying on the mountain and being bought down in a body bag.  This wasn’t just a scare story as a couple of days later a Japanese lady who had died from exhaustion and pneumonia just below base camp was bought down, so taking the doctor’s advice and turning back and not stubbornly going on was in hindsight the right thing to do.

Not wanting to risk my health further by letting me climb higher in order to then exit on one of the gentler slopes down I was given no choice but to descend via Umbwe Route which I later found out is the hardest of all routes both up and down Kilimanjaro, the strict preserve of experienced climbers as it is pretty much a punishing 17km vertical drop. For a novice climber with one pervious climb of Snowdon under his belt and who was ill and weak this became my “near death experience”.  Climbing down steep slippery rocks I lost footing and fell more than a few times, as did the porters accompanying me and at one point I thought I had broken my ankle as my foot became trapped between two tree roots as I fell, and was left hanging with a 25 foot drop down rocks below me.  Having managed to eat only a small bowl of watery millet porridge that morning as my throat was so sore and nothing else throughout the day by the time we reached the bottom of the mountain I was dehydrated, hungry, exhausted and hallucinating.   The descent had taken around 12 hours and the last 3 hours in pitch darkness had me dragging myself through the muddy jungle floor in a state of semi-consciousness.  Thankfully a Park Ranger we had met some hours earlier had said he would arrange a rescue ambulance to meet us as we neared the road and the $20 tip I gave him probably saved me when it looked like I wouldn’t make it the last 3Km to the road, he ordered a special 4x4 vehicle to get as far into the jungle rainforest as possible to collect me.   Through his efforts they managed to get 1.5Km into the jungle driving through thick mud and flooded tracks to rescue me, and save me having to walk for yet another 2hrs.

I spent my New Year’s Day in Moshi Hospital but was just so relieved I made it back only suffering from dehydration and exhaustion, which fluids, antibiotics and rest helped sort out.  If part of my goal was to push my now "fitter" body after my weight loss to the limit then I did this and it went way beyond what I imagined it could do, and most importantly it came through for me.  I never planned to put myself under so much pressure and there were times when I simply wanted to collapse and give up but I didn’t – thanks to my training, conditioning and mental resolve.   I am proud of the way I reacted both mentally and physically to being put under such duress and the fact that I consumed only 200 calories (porridge) and expended 6000 calories in a single day and walked/climbed some 15 miles through the most challenging terrain is a testament as to how far I have come from being physically unfit and hugely overweight 2 years ago.   Upon returning home I noted that I had lost 7lbs in weight but on the upside I have gained around £5,600 for Sue Ryder – so thank you to everyone who sponsored me and donated I am very grateful.

There were 8 of us in the Sue Ryder group and 5 went on to summit but there was no seeing the sun rise on New Year’s Day for them as it was blizzard conditions a total whiteout with temperatures down to -25C and everyone suffered facial burns from the wind shear, from being at the summit for all of 5 minutes.   The Alzheimer’s Society charity group also climbing with us comprised 34 people, but only 3 of them summited, the majority came down much earlier due to the terrible weather conditions and altitude sickness.

Since my return I have been asked on more than one occasion whether “I would do it again?” or “What advice I would give to others considering climbing Mt Kilimanjaro?”.    In terms of my doing it again I would consider it but not sure my family would let me do anything like this again because of the real risk to life.   Unlike celebrity survival shows with big crews and helpers my experience was unplanned, unrehearsed and did very nearly cost me my life so in terms of advice to others, I would say climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is an amazing experience but should only be attempted if you have trained hard and are peak health when you travel as Kili will find the smallest chink in your armour from a health perspective and make it worse very quickly. 

I have some good and bad menories of Kilimanjaro and photos and videos can be found in the photo and video gallery sections of this website.

Del Singh

     My New Years Eve Mt Kilimanjaro Climb Report