Adventurer on quest to become first black woman to climb Everest

2014-04-03 00:00

IT all started with a “bucket list”.

And if everything goes according to plan for Saray Khumalo (42), she will become the first black woman to join the queue of climbers scaling Mount Everest this year.

Khumalo left for Nepal with her mentor Sibusiso Vilane, the well-known South African adventurer and mountaineer, last night on their expedition Ubuntu Everest.

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula was due to see the pair off, but did not arrive at the airport.

Khumalo said being the first black woman up Everest was an honour but not her focus.

She said her aim was to show that South Africans do not have to stand back for anyone, “no matter if they are white or black, old or young”.

Khumalo was born in Zambia and has been living in South Africa since 1999.

Vilane shares her sentiments.

“This is a sport with no spectators. Out there you are on your own.”

He advised Khumalo to respect the mountain. “You are not bigger than the mountain. It can kill you.”

Vilane has already climbed the seven highest peaks in the world. He has climbed Everest twice and has also walked to the North and South poles twice.

Khumalo, a mother of two boys, said she realised Everest would be the biggest and most dangerous challenge in her life.

She had prepared for the challenge by climbing in the French Alps.

She and Vilane are undertaking the adventure as ambassadors of the Banking Association of South Africa.

Khumalo hopes to collect R1 million for the Lunchbox Fund with Ubuntu Everest while Vilane is collecting funds for the Mandela Day Libraries project.

In 2012, Khumalo scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and collected more than R200 000 for a rehabilitation centre for street children, Kids Haven in Benoni.

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