I walked out of the lockers at RVC and this poster caught my eye: Raise $10,000 and climb Mt Kilimanjaro for free. My impulse control flew out the window and I said then and there that I was going to do this. I had spent time in Africa many years ago and I desperately wanted to return. What a perfect opportunity!
Raising the funds didn’t seem an insurmountable task. I had successfully raised funds for charities before. Now, the question was how on earth was this 57 year old out of shape Brit going to get fit enough to do the climb? I had met RVC trainer Amy Fortier previously through a colleague so I asked her if she would be willing to work with me to prepare for the climb. She agreed and we put together a training schedule.
Thanks to Amy I made it to the top. It was hard work. We climbed for about seven hours a day for five days. The sixth day -the final ascent- was brutal. We got up at 11:00pm, having had no real sleep, and did a grueling ascent up the switchback trail. It was pitch black except for the hikers head torches and freezing cold. I wore six layers of clothing. There were times when I just wanted to stop and rest but our guides knew that if you stopped and fell asleep you would die of exposure. Toward the top my guide literally was behind me with his hands on my lower back gently pushing me up the mountain. Just as we got to the top, the sun rose over the crater casting everything in a beautiful orange glow. I was ecstatic and exhausted.I had conquered Kili before it conquered me.
In retrospect there is no way I would have done it without Amy. All the exercises and the time on the stepmill prepared my body well. I lost about fifteen pounds and have never been more fit. I have actually returned to playing indoor soccer. What’s on the horizon now? I am waiting for a another burst of inspiration. In the meantime, thank you to Amy and to Joe who very generously contributed to my fund-raising efforts. I couldn’t have done it without you.
- Paul Foster