TREK FOR MANDELA: CLIMBERS REACH KILIMANJARO’S TOP
ADVENTURER Sibusiso Vilane celebrated Mandela Day in a special way.
He summited Mount Kilimanjaro twice in less than 24 hours.
Vilane did his extra summit on July 17 with other climbers Arthur Marsden, Kirk Bouffard and Werner Gruner before, a few hours later, leading the Trek4Mandela group up to Uhuru Peak, the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim.
Of the 22 climbers who went up the highest peak in Africa, only 16 of them managed to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, because the other six had altitude sickness.
The Trek4Mandela expedition is in its fifth year and aims to raise funds to buy sanitary towels so that girls who need them don’t stay away from school when they are menstruating.
For Letshego Zulu, the walk to the top of the mountain was not only for her but for her husband Gugu as well. The couple attempted to summit together last year but Gugu died of health complications while at one of the camps.
Zulu – who for the five-day trek wore clothes branded with Gugu’s name – said: “I had to make it. There was no debate about it. I’ve been here before and only one element was unknown to me, and that was summit night,” Zulu said.
She said she experienced the climb the way she wanted to. “Before leaving home, so many people said I’d be sad but I was happy. The group made it pleasant.
“The most mind-blowing thing was walking the route again in daylight and seeing the terrain I walked in the dark trying to take Gugu down.”
Zulu said she hopes to return to the mountain and do other routes. “I struggled with drowsiness and I was sleepwalking, but I had an awesome guide.”
She said the walk was for both her and her late husband. “I did it for both of us. He wanted to summit and it was important I do it again,” she said.
Climber Sarel Nong said reaching the goal he had been working towards for more than a year was not easy.
“When we got to the altitude level of 5 200m, I felt like my lungs were about to explode. But I had to drink water and take it slowly,” Nong, from
I had to make it, there was no debate about it
CELEBRATION: The 16 climbers from the Trek4Mandela group who successfully reached Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro. The team included Letshego Zulu, insert, widow of racing driver Gugu.