Fundrais­ers’ life on the line in Kil­i­man­jaro trek

A fundraiser who shed 10 stone in two years pushed him­self to the limit in a dra­matic at­tempt to climb Africa’s high­est peak

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Yourtelegraph - By Stephen Briggs stephen.briggs@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ Twit­ter: @PTstephenB

Grand­fa­ther Del Singh was forced to turn back part way through his climb of Africa’s tallest moun­tain af­ter de­vel­op­ing a chest in­fec­tion - and he had a ‘near death ex­pe­ri­ence’ dur­ing the dan­ger­ous de­scent, when he was left hanging over a 25 foot drop with rocks be­low.

Del, who made the trip af­ter chang­ing his life when he lost a huge amount of weight, made it back safely, and raised an in­cred­i­ble £4,500 for Sue Ry­der’s Thorpe Hall Hos­pice.

Del said: “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 three day pe­riod.

“I made it to 4,600m (15,000ft) around three quar­ters of the way up Kil­i­man­jaro but I was ad­vised by a doc­tor pass­ing my tent 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 per cent 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.”

Fol­low­ing be­ing spot­ted by the doc­tor, Del started to make his way back down the moun­tain, with the help of ex­pe­ri­enced porters.

He said: “I was given no choice but to de­scend via the 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 pre­vi­ous 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 three hours in pitch dark­ness had me drag­ging my­self through the muddy jun­gle floor in a state of semi-con­scious­ness.”

Del car­ried out the climb be­tween Christ­mas and New Year, and spent his New Year’s Day in hospi­tal suf­fer­ing from de­hy­dra­tion and ex­haus­tion.

He said: “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 s (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 two years ago.

“Upon re­turn­ing home I noted that I had lost 7lbs in weight, but on the up­side I have gained around £4,500 for Sue Ry­der – so thank you to ev­ery­one who spon­sored me and do­nated, I am very grate­ful.

“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 I’m not sure my fam­ily would let me do any­thing like this again be­cause of the real risk to life. Un­like celebrity sur-

Del Singh fought chest in­fec­tion in his quest to climb Mt Kil­i­man­jaro

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