Sales director Rob Stewart has raised £5,000 on a breath-taking – and breath-less – “mini adventure” climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Holmfirth father-of-two Rob turned 60 last year and decided it was now or never.
Rob teamed up with former work colleague and retired businessman Nick Hopkinson MBE and joined a 12-strong party on a seven-day trip last month.
Over the course of four days the party made the arduous climb, reaching the 19,341ft summit of Africa’s highest mountain just as it started to come light.
“It was a mini adventure,” said Rob. “Tanzania is a spectacularly beautiful country with incredible people. It was a really enriching experience.”
Rob hopes to have raised £5,000 and will split the money between Nick’s charity, Warrington Youth Club, a charity for young people in Warrington, and Upperthong Junior and Infant School, where his two daughters and two grandchildren were pupils.
Rob was also chairman of what is now Upperthong School Support Group for around 10 years.
“The climb was an amazing experience but it’s not just about the physical challenge it’s about how your body deals with the altitude,” said Rob. “Quite a lot of very fit people fail because they under-estimate the challenge.
“You have to put a lot of energy into the preparation. You are well looked after and are told to drink your own body weight in water every day, eat lots of the right kind of food and get plenty of sleep.
“I turned 60 in August and had been to Kenya several times and had flown over Kilimanjaro and it looked a great spectacle.
“I decided to make the hike while I still had the legs to do it. I committed to it six months before but when you see the mountain in the distance you think: ‘What have I done?’”
The final eight-hour climb to the summit takes place in darkness, with head torches.
It was so cold at the top that Rob’s GoPro video and his mobile phone camera froze.
He still managed to get a picture at the summit as he unfurled a flag advertising his company Synseal, a window and door manufacturer. His boss had promised him £500 if he did it.
On their final day the group visited an orphanage, which proved a moving experience. “It was very humbling,” said Rob. “People just abandon babies at the side of the road because they have no means of supporting them.”
The worst part of the trip was “camp hygiene.”
Rob said: “Camping for a week without being able to wash and with the most appalling toilet facilities did not figure very high on my list of things to do!”
“People have asked me what I’m going to do next and the answer is – absolutely nothing! I’ll wait until I’m 70 now.”
It is thought the school may spend the money on IT equipment.