They conquered Kili - kaalvoet

2012-02-04 00:00

THEY did it! The barefoot team of climbers who set off to conquer Mt Kilimanjaro did what they set out to do.

Last Saturday the five-member team reached the summit, despite passing other climbers who were turning back. Matt Botha, the team spokesperson, said reaching the summit and achieving their goal was “surreal”.

Back in Cape Town this week the team of Hedley Young, Camilla Howard, Dr Ross Tucker Matt Botha, Andrew King and Clyde Barendse made a stop to see the children at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

The children will be the ones to benefit from all their hard work: the donations raised by the climb will go towards sponsoring life-saving equipment at the hospital.

Botha said the team made a decision on Saturday to go for the summit as the weather was good and they had heard that bad weather was coming. The team forged ahead and on their way they encountered other climbers who were turning around.

“They were feeling terrible and they were disoriented and looked like ghosts they were so white.

“Altitude sickness can do that to you. We were all a bit shaken by them. Others who saw us could not believe us, especially with our bare feet.”

“But we stuck to our goal and we tried to regain our positive attitude and it was a really strange experience because we had to concentrate to breathe and we had this swirling cloud around us. It was very eerie.

“When we saw the peak in front of us we were in tears. The group summited and took photographs feeling literally on top of the world.”

They put their boots on for the descent down the mountain as the volcanic rock can slice through skin — especially when sliding down at great speed.

Botha said: “I had to take my shoes off at intervals because they felt so uncomfortable.” On the descent some of the group started to experience the effects of altitude sickness: two developed severe migraine headaches and two others experienced nausea.

Botha said: “We were in a hurry to get off the mountain because the lower you get the better you feel.” When they reached the base town of Moshe they allowed themselves a chance to celebrate at a local Moshe pub called Kilimanjaro View.

Botha said: “We sank quite a few of the local lagers and had a party of note.”

Surprisingly, none of the barefoot team suffered any serious injuries while doing the climb.

They all survived with their fingers and toes intact.

. To donate money to their cause or to read up on their adventure go to: www.

barefootimpi.org.za

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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