Wyn Jenkins has just returned from a week attempting to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro; a fearsome challenge for anyone, let alone an above knee amputee.
Sadly, he was unable to reach the summit – this time! – but is determined to give it another shot when, armed with the experience gained on this trip and the knowledge that his fitness and stamina were well up to the task, he is determined that he will complete the challenge.
He has promised us a detailed report, hopefully with some photographs which we will publish as soon as we receive it, but here is his initial entry to give you a taster. The short video at the end of the report is well worth checking out for an idea of what this intrepid team had to contend with in their challenge and the tremendous support they were given.
A fantastic effort, Wyn. You are a star and an inspiration. You should be very proud of your achievement and for the money you, and the rest of the team, raised for LimbPower – a worthy cause.
It’s not too late to make a donation as reward for Wyn’s fantastic efforts. You can visit his Just Giving Page on: http://www.justgiving.com/wyn-jenkins
In the meantime, we hope that you are inspired by Wyn’s achievement and may feel like undertaking a challenge such as this yourself. As Douglas Bader himself said: “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”
What a fantastic week!
I’ve had the privilege of sharing a quite remarkable adventure with 14 of the nicest people you could hope to meet, 5 of whom were fellow amputees. The able-bodied were supportive and there was never a them and us situation – we were a group united with an objective of getting as many as possible to the summit of this beautiful mountain regardless of physical constraints.
We trekked for 5 days over rugged and sometimes technically demanding (for amputees) terrain always bearing in mind that we had to acclimatise slowly to the high altitude. We were all put on Diamoxin to help the red blood cells absorb more oxygen and we all eventually got to Kibo Camp below the summit with few altitude side effects to worry about. The 10 mile walk from Mawenzi Tarn across the Alpine desert of The Saddle to Kibo Camp was very tiring. The net gain was only 450m but it all came in the last couple of miles when the weather turned nasty and the light rain turned to sleet and then to snow. The team members then only had a few short hours to rest before attempting the final 3km to the summit. I’d been struggling with a heavy cold from day 1 which despite the best efforts of the Tanzanian doctor rapidly settled on my chest. The months and months of training and stamina work paid off though as I still had loads left in the tank but by the time I got to Kibo my chest was rattling like a tin box full of tools. I sought the advice of the two Tanzanian leaders, the doctor and our group leader who all felt that for me to continue up the final 1000m to the summit would be putting my life at risk. It was an emotional moment and whilst the decision was difficult I knew it was the right one. It was tough to watch the group set off at 11.00pm with head torches and to see them disappearing into the darkness. Only one amputee – Damian MacDonald ( a below knee amputee for 23 years) made it to Uhuru Peak together with all the able-bodied members, whilst the other amputees had to give up at various stages due to the severity of the climb and the slippery snow and scree conditions.
There’s a lot more for me to write about including a life and death situation on the descent from Kibo when a few of us literally had to keep one of our team alive until help arrived – thankfully it all work out in the end but what a moment which cruelly exposed the lack of emergency response support available on the mountain.
It was a hugely frustrating moment not to be able to continue to the summit, especially as I was feeling fit and strong. Some of us had a chat afterwards and feel that with some tweaks to the programme we would have been able to get far more to the summit and we aim to do so in 2013 after one of our amputee group recovers from his exertions at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Thank you all for your help and support which has raised much needed finances for LimbPower to continue it’s work to help new amputees with their rehabilitation through sport and recreation. I’ll be writing again shortly with links to some amazing photos that will put the severity of the trek into perspective. In the meantime, here’s a link to a short video showing Mary McMahon (a double below knee) arriving at Mawenzi tarn with her “Tanzanian groupies” – a video that sums up the fantastic interaction between our group and the Tanzanian guides and support team that made the week so enjoyable.
amputee, Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, Wyn Jenkins