TREK FOR MAN­DELA: CLIMBERS REACH KILIMANJARO’S TOP

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TE­BOGO MONAMA

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.

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