In September 2019 I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my son, William, to raise money for the Young Women’s Trust. It was a truly amazing experience that I want to share with you but firstly, some facts:
• Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world at a spectacular height of 5,895 metres above sea level (Mt Everest is 2,950m higher)
• It’s a dormant volcanic mountain
• About 35,000 people try to scale the mountain every year of which approximately two-thirds succeed. The main reason for turning back is altitude related issues
• Since 1912, Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice cap, and since 1962 it has lost 55% of its remaining glaciers – all due to climate change
• 40% of young women struggle to make ends meet each month
• A third of young mums say that they are always in debt
• Over 50% of young mums can’t take a job because of the cost of childcare
• Young Women's Trust works to give economic power to young women by raising their voices, challenging sexist stereotypes and rebuilding workplaces free from discrimination.
Anyone that knows me knows I love a challenge! So imagine my delight when I was asked to join a group to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which I now fondly refer to as Kili, in aid of this wonderful charity.
The guy behind the trip was Darren Hunt who set up his company, Mountains in Mind
, with the goal of helping others challenge the norm and personally grow. The premise for the trip was to gather a small group of business owners who were open to cross-learning. To develop a relationship online, before the trip, “bond” on the mountain and then continue to support each other through an accountability group. Bear in mind, Darren was also working with a group of NASA astronauts to develop a more resilient mindset by climbing Kilimanjaro, it wasn’t without trepidation that we embarked upon our adventure!
The group of six was accompanied by a cohort of porters whose stamina, strength and positivity were astounding. They carried everything we’d need to survive the climb such as tents and cooking equipment which left us to concentrate on carrying our personal belongings and putting one foot in front of the other – sounds easy but at altitude, it can be very testing. The guide’s favourite saying was the Swahili phrase “pole, pole” meaning “slowly, slowly”. And slowly but surely this method paid off.
The way that the porters treated us and their customer service, was simply outstanding. I know this is their job and they climb Kili many times a year, but their service mentality really shone through. A lesson we all took back to our businesses.