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Rise to the challenge

Kerre’s going into the trek of a lifetime with her eyes wide open

Not long now. Just three weeks until I head off and attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Since I first wrote about accepting an offer to join the World Vision team to help promote its microfinancing scheme, I’ve found out a bit more about what’s involved.

The most important point is that 40% of people who attempt the climb fail to make it. That’s a lot of people – about 12,000 every year. It’s the altitude sickness that does you in, apparently. Oh, and the cold!

If you experience altitude sickness, it doesn’t matter how fit you are – you’re going to find the going tough. And there’s nothing you can do to prepare for that, except swallow the pills and hope for the best.

I’ve spoken to some marvellous women who did manage to get to the top and they left me in no doubt as to how tough this is going to be. And my daughter passed on a student magazine containing a first-hand account of a young woman’s climb – an experience she refers to as the worst eight days of her life. She does not spare details and says at times she truly thought she would die. That put the wind up me.

At least she made it to the top. The fear of failure is more terrifying than getting sick. Oh, and around eight to 10 people do actually cark it every year.

Heart attacks and blood clots to the lung or brain are common causes of death. Fabulous.

So, while I’m excited, I think I understand what’s involved. I won’t know for sure until I’m sobbing on the side of the mountain, but I’m not wearing rose-coloured specs. It will be one hell of a challenge.

I turned down Celebrity Treasure Island, year in, year out, because I knew I would morph into a feral monster if deprived of my creature comforts for too long. That, and I had no desire to be filmed in a bikini.

But this experience, unlike Treasure Island, is for a good cause. I won’t be doing it for the money, but to help out World Vision. And on the plus side, I’m built for punishment. I am of the pit pony variety, not the flighty thoroughbred type that requires high maintenance.

I haven’t lost the 5kg I promised my trainer I would, but I may be grateful for the extra padding when we hit -25°C. I’ve been exercising and had my vaccinations, so if I’m bitten by a rabid monkey, I’ll live to tell the tale.

Actually, I’ll probably be the rabid monkey, biting anyone who comes near me by the third day. Hopefully, the rest of the team will have had their shots.

Fundraising has begun, with the girls at Paper Plus Masterton holding a cake stall. Everyone contributed, but Karen gets top honours for making a Kilimanjaro cake, complete with a Kerre doll on the summit. I hope I can justify her faith. They made more than $500, so just $9500 more to raise – and 5700m to climb. How hard could it be?

To support Kerre, visit www.worldvision.org.nz/Portal/Micro/TeamWVforMicro.aspx

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