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Nicola Climbs Kili

A typical weekend for me and my housemate Sarah involves a trip to the hairdressers, getting a manicure, shopping, going for lunch and then out for a cold glass or two of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I tell you this simply to set the scene. We work hard and love our luxuries and until now it was never on my to-do list to wear ugly walking boots, camp, or go days without access to a bathroom. So it came as a shock the day after the night before, when Sarah (the girl who has NEVER been camping in her life) suggested we climb Kilimanjaro for charity. “WE need a challenge, something to focus on” she says. Famous last words! A year on from signing up we are just 37 days away from the climb. It always seemed like such a long way off, but with all the fundraising, training and preparation time has just flown by. So what have we learned so far…..

On the subject of fundraising I would stress the importance to start early. Set up your donation page ASAP and tell everyone you know and meet about the personal challenge for you and the good work of the Nasio Trust. Social media is great for spreading the word. Above and beyond kind donations from friends and family I ran office sweepstakes, prize draws and sold personal and donated items on eBay. With just over £100 left to hit my fundraising target my next goal is to exceed it. I have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity; it has been so humbling. There are so many people doing great things for great causes, so I have really appreciated the support I have received so far. Not that it has been easy and I have had to be really disciplined with hitting targets along the way, regularly posting and reminding people about my personal challenge, trying to link my Facebook and Twitter posts to an achievement or a milestone or to highlight the work of the Nasio Trust to show my commitment and dedication to succeeding and not just expecting people to give over their hard earned cash.

An equally challenging aspect has been the training, well for me at least. It has been less so for Sarah who is a regular at the Gym, but for me the reality hit home one cold morning in October 2012 when I attempted my first 10K run. Happily telling Sarah “These things are mind over matter” and not having seen my trainers for over a year, I was shocked when at just 3k I thought I was going to collapsed (Sarah tells me I was going a funny shade of purple at this point) in some respects it was mind over matter as I did finish it eventually (not quite sure how) but it was this terrible experience that made me realize I wasn’t able to wing it when climbing Kilimanjaro, so after 12 years of service I decided to ditch my smelly old trainers, buy some new ones and start taking this seriously. I have been challenging myself to run further and further and occasionally, (usually after I’ve run) I get a sense of pride for the progress I’ve made since that first 10k. I will never really like running and I have moaned a lot about it over the last 6 months, but sometimes you just have to shut up, get on with it and do things you don’t like.

The training weekend organized by the Nasio Trust was my first experience of an actual climb (minus the altitude) It was also a chance to get to know the rest of the team climbing with us in September. We were not in the slightest bit apprehensive as we drove the 6 hours to North Wales. We had the impression that we were going to ‘walk’ up Snowden which people said was easy, so we were viewing this as a mini break rather than training. To be honest if we would have known exactly what lie ahead of us that weekend we might have panicked, but ignorance was bliss! Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast we set off in our ugly walking boots and less than flattering hiking attire into a very unexpected situation. I honestly thought on viewing Tryfan and the Glyders that Jonathan was joking! I think my words were something like “That’s ridiculous! How can anyone climb that? Its 90 degrees” Maybe a slight exaggeration but I was actually serious, how was I going to climb it? The next few hours we found ourselves scaling shingle rock faces on all fours, sheer drops (don’t look down), vertical ledges (don’t look up) and not to forget poor Sarah’s Vertigo. The good thing was everyone in our group was great and helped each other through and we really worked as a team. Meeting before the climb and getting to know each other was really good and has only fuelled our excitement for the real thing. Our day training in Snowdonia was super scary but super exciting and I had never experienced anything like it. Never had I more deserved an alcoholic drink at the end of that day.

So now all that remains is to beg, steal and borrow as much kit as possible, finish getting my travel vaccinations, travel insurance, visas and making sure I have everything in place. There are a lot of check lists involved at this stage, but which girl doesn’t love a check list ….Fail to prepare as they say!

Listening to other peoples’ experiences of climbing Kilimanjaro was interesting, but I would say avoid it as they are seldom talk about good things and everyone’s experience will be unique with your own personal challenges, so I’m going with an open mind ready to have my own adventure.

To anyone thinking about taking up the challenge for The Nasio Trust next year, I would say just do it! It is amazing what you can achieve when you really push yourself and you know you are raising money for a great cause. Even though the biggest part of the challenge is yet to come for us, I am really proud of what we have achieved even to this point. I think it is fair to say we are mostly excited and part terrified but determined to make it as a team! Maybe when we are stood at the top, no doubt full of emotion at our achievement, I will thank Sarah and agree that WE really did need a challenge and something to focus on and that walking boots are not so ugly after all! Hmmm we will see!!

This post is listed in Climb Stories

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