Bexley girl, 21, reflects on 'incredible' trip up Mt. Kilimanjaro
PUBLISHED: 09:31 03 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:31 03 February 2014
"My dad would hopefully be very proud of me," said Emma, who skipped her 21st birthday celebrations last month to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for EllenorLions Hospice.
The north Kent charity ensured Emma’s father David Connelly was able to pass the final months at home before his life was tragically cut short in 2000 from cancer.
Nurses would visit the family home regularly each week to help ease the inevitable suffering.
Fourteen years on and Emma wants to repay the hospice.
She has raised £4,300 through a boot sale, raffle, cake sale and a charity night at the Golden Lion pub in Luddesdown, before scaling nearly 6,000m to reach the summit of the Tanzanian mountain.
Emma, 21, of Blendon Road, said: “[The trip] was incredible, it was the best thing I have ever done.
“There was a group of 18 of us – they were all complete strangers. I was quite lucky because I did not experience any altitude sickness. I acclimatised really well.”
The support of the rest of the group and their guides, who supported the climbers along the ascent kept everyone going.
“The night before reaching the summit we walked in complete darkness,” added Emma. “We left at midnight and the sun rose about two hours before we reached the top that gave us a really boost. It made it all worth it.
“I did not really expect it but the guides were incredible. Near the summit they motivated us by whistling and shouting all the time. It really helped us.
“Our guide was called John and he has climbed Kilimanjaro 200 or 300 times in his life.
“We were walking between five and 10 hours every day. We were quite a quick paced group.
“I have done Snowdon in Wales and some training in Italy in the Alps before this but nothing compares.”
Before the climb, Emma told the Bexley Times she thought it would be like “walking from the equator to the arctic pole” trying to adjust to the dramatic change of temperature from the bottom to the top of the mountain.
Recalling the 10-day trek, she said: “The strangest part was it takes two days to get back down, whereas it takes six and half to get up there.
“And, of course, going from minus 15 to 30 degrees at the bottom was really weird.
“We had sun, sleet and snow. We had to carry everything with us just in case.”
Back on home soil you might think Emma would be looking to put her feet up after her mountaineering efforts, but she is keen to break yet another personal barrier.
“The hospice relies on fundraising, I am hoping to get up to £5,000 in the next few weeks,” she smiles determinedly.
To make a donation, visit Emma’s sponsorship page virginmoneygiving.com/EmmaLucyConnelly.