I climbed a mountain for Martlets

This blog was written by Luke Westgate, who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Martlets and raised more than £1,400. 

In February, I undertook a huge challenge for Martlets Hospice – I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Doing this was an easy decision – Martlets have been there for my Mum and family in a way I can never repay. The work, care, help and support that is given to patients and families in need is incredible and life-changing; I cannot thank them enough for what they have done and are still doing now.

My Mum was a strong and adventurous lady; climbing Kilimanjaro was a hurdle in comparison to the mountain she had to climb. Knowing this was the push and driving force that got me to the top of Africa.

I decided that I wanted to do the climb in September when Mum was still sick; she knew this was the kind of adventure I have always wanted to do. I have never done anything like this before though are always up for a new challenge and experience. It was also the first time I had ever been to Africa.

Preparing for the challenge

Getting all the kit together happened gradually over the 6 months; making sure I had everything for a week of trekking and the summit. I did a fair bit of training in the lead up to the climb; keeping fit and lots of cardio. In training, I was wearing an altitude mask to prepare me for the elevation and ascent.

The trek was a total of 8 days long, taking us 6 days to get to the summit and 2 days to come back down. Throughout the trek, we were climbing up to high altitudes then coming down to camp, like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back. This is so we could acclimatize and sleep easier at camp.

Climbing the mountain was amazing and tough to get to the highest point of 5,895 m above sea level. Walking up to the summit and struggling to breathe as I put one foot in front of the other, I knew that Mum was with me giving me that push I needed, as pain is temporary and achievements will last forever.

The most surprising moment for me was how hard the summit was, how hard it was to breath when we passed 5,000 m up. I had to put so much energy into taking the smallest of steps, my steps were so small that the heel of my foot didn’t even past the toe of my other foot. We left base camp at 11:00 pm being completely exhausted on such a small amount of sleep to arrive at the peak at 6:30 am.

I would recommend a climb to anyone

With amazing support from friends and family, we have raised over £ 1,500.00! I would most definitely do it again and cannot wait to tackle another mountain somewhere else. The feeling when getting to the top of a mountain after you have worked your way up for the previous few days and then completing it is the best feeling ever. The views on the way up and the night sky in Africa is beautiful.

I would recommend a climb to anyone.

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