Which is the highest peak?
On Thursday 3 September at around 08:00 a.m, Chaeli Mycroft, a wheelchair user and an ability activist, became the first female quadriplegic to summit Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest free-standing mountain on the planet.
Together with seven other climbers, and led by Discover Africa’s Carel Verhoef – who has climbed Kilimanjaro once a year for the past decade – the aim of the seven day climb was to raise funds for The Chaeli Campaign’s Inclusive Education Programme and the Chaeli Cottage Inclusive Pre-school and Enrichment Centre.
Together, Chaeli and the climbers wanted to show the world how important it is to work together to attain a seemingly impossible goal: to show that one’s physical disability places no limitations on what one is able to achieve.
Sunrise over Mount Kilimanjaro. Image by Carel Verhoef.
Overcoming challenges through teamwork
For able-bodied individuals, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a tough proposition. For someone in a wheelchair, things become a lot more difficult.
Some of the challenges that Chaeli had to deal with included the threat of altitude sickness, dealing with temperatures below freezing point, all with minimal movement as Chaeli spent most of her time in a specially designed ‘mountain wheelchair’.
Having reached the 3700m and 4750m marks, two climbers had to be sent back down the mountain due to altitude sickness (they are now both recovering well). Nevertheless, the team prepared for the summit run and left Kibo camp – the final checkpoint before the summit – at 23:00 on Wednesday 2 September 2015. Users followed the progress live on Discover Africa’s Dreamwork through Teamwork website – which tracked Chaeli’s movements on Kilimanjaro in real-time.
After two years of planning and nine months of in-depth preparation, Chaeli has accomplished what many people think would be impossible. She has joined the ranks of the few ambitious mountain climbers to have reached the top of the highest peak in Africa.