Stoney girls make it to the top of Africa

FRIENDS Emma Hughes, Lynne Stephens and Sarah Atkinson, all from Stonehaven, are pictured after completing their arduous climb to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.
FRIENDS Emma Hughes, Lynne Stephens and Sarah Atkinson, all from Stonehaven, are pictured after completing their arduous climb to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.

THREE young women from Stonehaven have raised £2155 for Scottish Mountain Rscue after successfully reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro last month.

Lynne Stephens, Emma Hughes and Sarah Atkinson hit upon the idea of scaling the famous peak as a way of marking their 30th birthday’s this year, while also raising money for a charity close to their hearts.

Lynne, who grew up in Stonehaven but now lives in New Zealand, said: “We chose to support Mountain Rescue through sponsorship as I have had to call on them on behalf of family members myself, but we are also very aware of the dangers of walking when the weather can deteriorate so quickly at times.

“The rescue teams provide reassurance and support when required but also act in a timely manner with the skills and knowledge required. It is mainly a voluntary service and supporting this vital service is important for its future.”

Of the climb, Lynne said that the three agreed that it was one of the hardest challenges that they had ever faced, with one of their group of nine not making it to the top due to altitude sickness.

In fact seven of the group were suffering from altitude sickness, which causes sickness and headaches, from day two of the climb, with only Lynne and one other man escaping it.

After six days of arduous climbing the group were awoken at 11pm and after a snack set off in pitch blackness with head torches.

They had to struggle through blizzards in freezing temperatures so low that water bottles had to be under jumpers and coats or the water froze. One lady didn’t make it as she was hallucinating and was taken down very quickly. When they reached the top the weather cleared to reveal amazing views of the sunrise over Africa.

Lynne said that, depsite the training the girls undertook in the lead up to the challenge, they all found it extremely difficult. She added: “I had such an awesome time and have to say it was one of the harder things I’ve done in life but so rewarding! I was so lucky not to suffer from altitude sickness, you don@t know how yur body will react to it until you are up there.”

Kilimanjaro is widely accepted as the highest ‘walkable mountain’ in the world. It is a long and hard trek, which reaches an altitude of 5,895m and as there is no way of knowing how you are going to react to altitude in advance, there was no guarantee that the girls would complete their challenge.

There are six official trekking routes by which to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, namely Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira Umbwe and Machame. Lynne, Emma and Sarah took the Lemosho route, and completed their adventure in six days. Kilimanjaro is often underestimated because it can be walked and is not a technical climb. However, many mountaineers consider Kilimanjaro very physically demanding.