Martin’s Kilimanjaro Challenge in memory of Becky Scrivens
On 29th January, 2015 I commenced my journey to the roof top of Africa. I ascended the great Mount Kilimanjaro (Kili) from the tropical basin to the arctic summit some 20,000ft up and back again in just seven days.
I took on this challenge in the memory of Becky Scrivens, who died of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) at the age of 11. I have known Roger, Sandie and Lauren Scrivens for a few years now, bringing Becky's story closer to my heart. Living without your child is unimaginable. I take great pride in knowing the Scrivens and seeing not only how they cope but how they unselfishly give their time and efforts to helping others avoid the suffering they endured.
A year to the day after Becky's passing, I very nearly lost my own son, when at the age of 9 he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage in his sleep. Unknown until then, he was born with a malformation in his brain that just erupted. Bizarrely, one of the side effects offering clues to his condition is epilepsy, which he didn't suffer. At the time, he was left 100% paralyzed down his right side and lost the ability to speak.
Today, 10 years on and after three sessions of brain surgery he still waits for the all clear but leads a normal live. We are the lucky ones. My heart goes out to all the families who were not as fortunate as my son and I.
Sometime last year, I was watching a wildlife program on TV and in the background was Mount Kilimanjaro. I thought, I bet the view from the top would be amazing! Only one way to find out, so I signed up to climb it.
The Climb up Mount Kilimanjaro starts with the beautiful warm rain forest, passing through chilly alpine areas, to a cold barren moonlike landscape, with amazing sunrises and sunsets.
My climb up Mount Kilimanjaro was quite challenging. Imagine walking for hours and hours, up over sand dunes and rock climbing at the beach on a cold windy winter’s day with one nostril fully blocked and the other half blocked. I kept going, some would say self-determination but my mum would say bloody stubbornness.
Suffering with altitude sickness, which made me feel nauseous, short of breath, a thumping headache and wobbly legs, I scrambled up the Barranco Wall. The night assault for the summit proving even more difficult. Those sand dunes I spoke of earlier really do sap your energy, especially with very limited oxygen and in a wind of -14 degrees Celsius. The worst part was dealing with the stomach upset that altitude sickness brings.
When I got to the summit although really cold, the views as the sun came up were breath-taking. I was elated and exhausted, I had done it, woohoo! I tried my best to block my feelings as the journey was not over. I had to get down, and wanted to fully finish this challenge by walking through the Mweka Gate at the bottom under my own steam and with my back pack on.
My emotions wobbled a bit, whilst I held up the picture of Becky, wondering how Roger & Sandie would feel seeing their daughter at the summit of Kili. I know it was only a photograph, but to me that photo of Becky symbolised the suffering and spirit of many families such as the Scrivens, and for a brief moment that spirit stood on top of the world.
When I arrived at the Mweka Gate, with back pack on and beer in hand, I checked my emails.The first message was from a friend asking me if I was interested in the Artic Husky challenge in -40 degrees c. The following email asked, 'As you are now over 50 years of age, would you like to go on a saga holiday? Right now, that sounds more appealing.
So far, including Gift Aid I have managed to raise £4807, I hope to hit the £5,000 mark. Two of my sponsors were Becky's father, Roger and his friend Alun Carew. They had the idea to pledge 1p for every foot of elevation I achieved. With a summit at 19,341ft, the successful climb resulted in two payments of £193.41 plus Gift Aid, a great way to combine encouragement and reward. To aid the fund raising, we also held various entertaining events.
My advice to anyone thinking of climbing Kili is, train, take advice, get the right gear, listen to your body, go enjoy it and do it for SUDEP Action.
For more photos visit:
Martin's Kilimanjaro climb photo gallery
To read Martin’s full story please go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MartinsKilimanjaroChallenge