When people politely asked what my husband Ian and I were doing for Christmas 2019, many responded to my answer, “climbing Kilimanjaro”, with puzzlement in their voices with the question, “why”? I do like walking on flat smooth surfaces, but I am not athletic and do not play sports. I do not like clamouring over rocks, walking over loose shale and stones, bad weather, heights, and mud. I am short with mediocre balance, and weak upper body strength, so large steps up, down, or over something are difficult for me. Also, I had experienced altitude sickness before, so I was aware that this was going to add to the challenge. We live in Manchester, England, where the altitude is 38m (125 ft) and Kilimanjaro is 5895m (19 340 ft) at Uhuru Peak at the top. (The Shard in London is only 309.6m – tallest building in UK and Europe) What was I thinking?
Fourteen years earlier, I had experienced a large personal loss and decided that I needed to do something that would help me to keep focus. I made the decision to go outside my comfort zone and climb the three most famous non-technical mountains, Mount Fuji (3776 m/12 389 ft) in Japan, Kota Kinabalu (4095 m/13 435 ft) in Borneo, Malaysia, and the highest, Kilimanjaro (5895 m/19 340 ft) in Tanzania. Having completed Fuji and Kinabalu over the first few years after making this decision, and experiencing bad altitude sickness at Kinabalu, I kept putting off the final one in my tri-mountain challenge. Ian and I realised that we now had the time and opportunity to do it, and I made the decision that it was now or never, as I was not getting any younger.