When Kerre McIvor finally made it to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, she had little energy left to feel happy about it.
It had been an arduous five-day ordeal of non-stop climbing, but Kerre, along with Olympic couple Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh, musician Boh Runga and comedian Rhys Darby, reached the 19,300 ft summit last Tuesday- and Kerre says it was the toughest experience of her life.
"It was harder than giving birth," Kerre says from Tanzania, just hours after making the two-day descent. "It was really hard- worse than a marathon. I don't think there was anything that could have prepared me for what it was like. But I did it, and it was spectacular."
While the climb pushed all the climbers- who were taking part to raise money for World Vision- to their absolute limits, no one suffered more than Flight of the Concords star Rhys, who battled a severe chest infection on the way up the mountain.
"He looked so sick," says Kerre. "He emerged from his tent one morning and all I wanted to do was send him back to bed with a hot water bottle and some honey. But he was determined he was going to do it, and he did."
With Rhys falling ill, leadership of the group fell on "Mahe's extraordinarily broad shoulders", Kerre says. "He was incredible. I didn't expect him to be so kind, but he really helped us during those long cold nights climbing."
Apart from being "absolutely exhausted", Kerre insists she's fine- mostly due to the porters and guides that accompanied the group up the mountain.
"They are amazing. We were carrying our backpacks, but they were carrying all of our gear on their heads! And the food was superb. They carried frozen chicken up the side of Kili in metal containers with ice in them, and they'd wake you up in the morning with a cheery "good morning!" and a cup of tea. It was quite surreal!" she says.
And Kerre's quick to say if it weren't for the rest of the team, reaching the summit wouldn't have been possible.
"We all brought different strengths to the team. I probably talked way too much, I'm sure I must have got annoying. "But we did it. I'm so proud!"
To donate to World Vision Micro,visit worldvision.org.nz
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