Going the Extraordinary Mile

Charlie Wright, Connect & Do Peer Supporter, recently climbed nearly 6,000 metres to the summit of Kilimanjaro in 7 days!

Charlie has been raising money for the Connect & Do Space in Brixton, which brings together people with shared interests from the local community.  Here, Charlie speaks to us about his amazing experience…

“My first one hundred steps were scary, I ran out of breath and realised it was not going to be easy.  By then I had built a good rapport with the others in the group who were a lot younger than me. My plan of action was to mimic the walk the guides did as they had obviously gone up the mountain an untold number of times. The steps were unbelievably not normal, they were the slowest, shortest steps I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing – it was going to be tough!

Even though you think you’re prepared – doing all the research about medication and the effects of altitude – it did play havoc on my mind! One of the side-effects of altitude sickness is hallucinations and I really did not want that (who does!!?). It’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t easy, there is a part of the mountain which is just 50cm wide with a sheer drop and is on a 50m path. It was scary but I saw the porters carrying 15kg packs on their heads and thought, “hey, if they can do that so can I!”.

Getting to the summit was the most difficult, I’ve never valued oxygen so much and doubt I ever will! We walked all night and it got to -20°C. We must’ve walked for 9 hours and reaching the top was a blessing. We spent one hour there taking photos and congratulated each other. Soon the joy would turn to dread as I realised that to go down (it took six days to get to the top, and one day down!). We had to ski down the mountain for the most part of three hours on a surface of sand and rocks. As I was held by a porter who claimed it would be safe and my fear of breaking a limb would not be realised, I let everything go and went down.

I really think I was blessed for this trip, nothing went wrong, my mental health was excellent and I had the best time of my life. To top it all off I went on a two day safari to chill and see as many animals as I could. And I did!  What I have found after this endeavour is that I know I am stronger than I have ever been, am not bad at organising myself and I made some really good friends.

The locals gave me a nickname, Majuto, which is Swahili for ‘regrets’ (of which I have had many but not this) after a Tanzanian comedian, King Majuto, who apparently I look like, or maybe I’m just funny?! Not sure.”

Congratulations Charlie from all at Certitude on this amazing achievement. This has not only been a life changing experience for you but the money you have raised is going to make a real difference to the lives of so many people. Thank you Charlie!

You can still donate to support Charlie’s fantastic climb here.