On the 11th October Chris Meeking and his dad set off on their trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in the memory of a family friend, Hayley Crook. Chris and his dad raised a wonderful £4,270.16 for their trek.
“My Dad and I decided to take on the heights and challenges that Mt Kilimanjaro had to offer, standing at 5895m above sea level (ASL) it’s the highest free standing mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro has always been a challenge that has interested me and I thought it was a good event to prepare me for bigger and harder challenges that may follow. I decided to undertake this event in memory of Hayley Crook, who sadly passed away in her sleep, later being diagnosed as SADS, she was a close friend of my sister and a friend of the family.
Starting our fundraising early to help ease the pressure, we set about organising a range of events. Bi weekly car boots brought in a steady stream of sponsorship, assisted by cake sales, sales from tickets and sweets at a dance show and various other small events helped us on our way. As for training, well, there wasn’t really any. Pen Y Fan in the Brecon beacons was the only training hike undertaken in the torrential wind and rain, which only dampened our spirits. Relying on a general active and sporty lifestyle was essential to my preparation.
We were a group of 16, mixture of ages and personalities but everyone got on well and contributed their own bit to the group. The group had a combination of first time campers to regular trekkers, and even some who had climbed Kili earlier that year only to fail on summit day.
It took 6 days in total to get up and down Mt Kilimanjaro. The days consisted of long treks through different terrains including the rainforest on day 1, continuing up through the clouds on day 2, bits of scrambling on days 3 & 4. The weather was interchangeable throughout therefore we had to use all our different kit to make sure we didn’t get too hot, cold or wet!
The day before the summit and the ascent to the peak was the hardest of all the days. A total of 24 hours trekked in those 2 days, with minimal sleep and altitude starting to have an effect on everyone. Setting off at midnight with just the head torch to guide us was both exciting and frightening. Sunrise was at 6am, it was a beautiful sight, we stopped for 10 minutes to take in the view and think about why we were there. It certainly helped us get warm again, with many of us peeling back some of those 8 or so layers we were wearing. Our next target was to get to Stella Point, 5790m ASL. Here we had a tea and some snacks before setting off for the peak.
My dad and I, followed by six other members of the group, reached Uhuru peak at 9.05am on 17/10/12. The views were breathtaking, gigantic glaciers covered some parts of the mountain, while other views looked like arid dessert plains. It really was an outburst of emotion, with plenty of hugging and tears from quite a few. Throughout the trip Hayley had been in my thoughts, but none more so than the moment we got our picture taken by the sign. We pulled out the banner, tied a sunflower to the sign and placed a small dancer figurine that was on Hayley’s 18th birthday cake into a crevice of a rock. I hope to have made Hayley and her family very proud, realising just how much of an effect their daughter had in everyone’s life.”
You can still donate to Chris and his Dad’s trek by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/Chris-Meeking