Val’s Up, Down and Back!

Huge congratulations to our local heroine, Val Hoare, who has successfully scaled Africa’s highest mountain and raised a load of money for charity to boot. Here’s her story:

“What a challenge – the toughest thing I have yet done! I was part of an amazing team of like-minded people who were so positive and supportive of each other, and all but three of us made it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Our leaders, Ben and Chris and our team medic Sarah from Discover Adventure were the best- they encouraged a ‘can-do’ attitude in the entire team with fantastic humour and patience. Ben took great delight in my west-country accent and my age (the oldest on the team) but made it his mission to get me to the top.

We walked through jungle on the first day (with afternoon deluge) to emerge into an alpine environment of tree-heathers and lichens and then further up into an almost barren landscape of rock and dust, cooled each afternoon by the clouds rising from the jungle storms. Camp each night was a village of two-man tents which disappeared as we got up the next morning to re-appear further up the mountain at the next site. Our local porters and guides did a magnificent job on the mountain with such grace and cheerfulness – on most evenings we were welcomed into camp with Swahili songs and dancing. Most of us joined in, even though we were exhausted. The chef produced some fantastic meals each day, including peanut soup, casseroles, pop-corn (with added salt to support our muscles) and fresh cucumber and pineapple. I will admit to suffering Acute Mountain Sickness, despite taking medication! Being sick most days was a bit trying, but there was no option- it was up and get going with the rest of them. The scrambling up the Barranco Wall caused some trepidation in some of the team, but luckily I have done this sort of stuff before and other than wishing I had longer legs, I managed OK.

Summit night brought its own challenges – starting out at 11p.m. and climbing steadily for eight hours before reaching the summit on dry, dusty terrain that seemed like going up a down escalator in sub-zero temperatures. We all felt so pleased to make it to the top, and also to be raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support at the same time made it really worthwhile. Let me say a massive ‘Thank you’ to the many, many people who have helped and supported my adventure. (My total now stands at £6,293 – beating a target of £4,450 by miles!)”

Well done, Val. What’s next?