Conquering Kilimanjaro for Christchurch
07 September 2011
As part of a team of Kiwis from around the world, University of Canterbury master's student Argene Montgomery-Honger successfully conquered Mt Kilimanjaro last month. The expedition to climb the world's tallest walkable mountain was in aid of raising money and boosting morale for the people of Christchurch.
As part of a team of Kiwis from around the world, University of Canterbury master's student Argene Montgomery-Honger successfully conquered Mt Kilimanjaro on 5 August 2011. The expedition to climb the world's tallest walkable mountain was in aid of raising money and boosting morale for the people of Christchurch. To date, the team has raised more than $17,000 for the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal and has received acknowledgements from Prime Minister John Key, the High Commissioner to London and Chief Executive of NZ Red Cross for their efforts.
Argene reflects on her achivement:
"Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The first three days we hiked around four hours each day, gradually edging closer to the mighty peak of Kilimanjaro towering above us. By the fourth day at 4700m above sea level, the altitude was notable. There were times when I woke up gasping for breath and even the smallest physical exertion like tying my shoe laces was a challenge. After hiking six hrs and a short rest, at midnight on 5 August in the dark we began our final ascent. Wearing five layers of clothes with only my eyes and nose exposed to the -10C, donning a head torch and walking ‘pole pole’ (slowly in Swahili) we worked our way up the switchback of loose scree. With every step forward I slipped half a step back. It took every ounce of determination I possessed to just keep putting one step in front of another for six very long hours. After nearly passing out and feeling nauseous most of the way up, we reached Gilman’s Point, 5681m just in time to see the most breathtaking sun rise over Mawenzi – the other summit of Kilimanjaro. Thinking Uhuru Peak can’t be too far away now, we continued our ascent only to realise the last 200m in height would take us over two hours, such was the speed of walking we were capable of.
"Standing at Uhuru Peak, 5895m, and being able to see the curvature of the earth, I truly felt as though was I on top of the world. At first there was no celebrating, only needing to sit down to recover, but gradually it started to sink in that we had made it! Holding the New Zealand and Irish flags (in honour of the two Irishmen killed in the February quake, one of whom was a music student of mine) at the summit, I felt a huge sense of pride and gratitude that I’d been given this opportunity to represent my city. Close to tears, I remember thinking: ‘This is for you Christchurch, if we can climb this mountain, then we can get through any challenge life throws at us’. Climbing 'Kili' was an extreme endurance test that 12 Kiwis were willing to go through as a sign of their solidarity with the people of Christchurch. I hope that this gesture provides Cantabrians with a new hope for the future and also the strength to keep on ‘pole pole’."
The team is still taking donations at http://kilimanjaronz.com/support-us/donate/.
For more information please contact:
Maria De Cort
Communications & External Relations
Mobile: +64 27 299 0741
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