Heart man Wally to climb Kilimanjaro

2008-11-17 00:00

Wally Katze has conquered open heart surgery. Can he conquer Kilimanjaro?

Katzke (52), of Meyersdal in Johannesburg, who became the first heart patient in the world to have his open- heart surgery televised live, plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next year.

He volunteered to have his surgery broadcast live in August in a special SABC 3 transmission of topical talk show 3 Talk with Noeleen.

The operation was televised in association with the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) to encourage South Africans to “wake up” to the cardiovascular risks associated with unhealthy diets and lifestyle choices.

Three months later, he has made an almost full recovery.

Recently Katzke spoke of the goals he has set himself for 2009. He plans to cycle the Cape Argus Pick ’n Pay Cycle Tour in February and is keen to initiate a Wally’s Heart Walk around Johannesburg in March, all in preparation for his ultimate challenge — to climb Mount Kilimanjaro later next year.

Katzke said, “Kilimanjaro is symbolic of the journey I have embarked on with my heart. When I summit it, I will know in my heart that I have conquered cardiovascular disease forever.”

“I have been training, gymming, cycling and walking about three to four times a week since my operation. I was actually very active until about 10 years ago when I started having heart trouble because of my various bad habits. I had even completed the Argus cycling race twice in the past,” he said.

Katzke has nine months to prepare for the climb.

“It’s exciting stuff and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

His enthusiasm has inspired talk-show host Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu, who hopes to attempt the climb with Katzke in 2009.

Sean Disney of Adventure Dynamics, who has climbed Kilimanjaro nine times and will be leading Katzke’s expedition in 2009, said the group will include some 20 people.

“Wally will be fully supported by a team of professionals and medical experts as they walk around 60 km, or seven vertical kilometres, in seven days climbing, summiting and descending Kili, possibly in adverse weather conditions,” he said.

Watch Katzke on Monday, November 24, on 3 Talk with Noeleen on SABC3.

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