An Oakes adventurer has just become a member of an exclusive club.
Michael Bottom climbed up and down Africa’s highest mountain in just over 16 hours.
The speed ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the latest climbing challenge that the 23-year-old can tick off his list. He described the climb – normally completed in a week – as his biggest achievement so far.
Michael, from Oakes, climbed to the base camp on Mount Everest in 2012 for charity. Earlier this year he scaled Mount Elbrus, which is in Russia’s western Caucasus range and the highest mountain in Europe.
Michael previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro but set himself the challenge of returning to complete the climb in a day.
He said: “The goal of our speed ascent was to complete a 24-hour ascent and descent of the mountain.
“We hoped to break the world record for the fastest ever female ascent held by local guide Debbie Bachmann (11 hrs 42 mins).
“Although most of the ascent was done in a solo environment, we started as a team of four with a local guide.”
The group used the Umbwe route for their ascent, a tough way so steep in places that climbers have to use tree roots to haul themselves from one ledge to the next.
Michael explained: “This was approximately a 31-mile route with 4,200m (13,779ft) of ascent and descent.
“We chose this route because it is the most direct and also very quiet as it is seldom used by trekking groups.”
Michael climbed as part of a group of four with a local guide named Bruno. They had sent up some porters with food, water and kit to two camps on the mountain.
The first of this was at Barranco, the halfway point which was the hardest and steepest section of the route.
Michael reached this in three hours and 45 minutes.
The group continued together to Karanga camp and then up to the Barafu high camp at 4,600m (15,091ft).
Michael said that he had to stop to catch a breath as he continued the difficult climb – reaching the top in 10hrs 13m.
He said: “The fact that this upper part of the mountain was now almost empty reiterates how close to the limit of safety we were getting.”
The group’s descent was not as fast as they hoped, partly due to the darkness and the difficult terrain.
Michael said: “The last few hundred metres had been on almost all fours, clawing desperately at large boulders using them to balance and push off onto the next one.”
He successfully completed his mission in just over 16 hours.
He said: “I made myself part of a rather exclusive group of people and certainly it was the biggest achievement in my life. A particular highlight for me was the way the news of our ascent spread around the mountain. The clouds were tinged with a beautiful orange sunset – it felt like flying. We estimate that only 20 to 30 people have ever completed a one day ascent/ descent.
“When signing out at the gate the park staff couldn’t believe what I had done!”
During his previous expeditions Michael has raised over £5,000 for Childreach International, which works to improve the potential for children all over the world.
Michael aspires to become an expedition leader and aims to complete his mountain leader qualification in the near future.
The next climbs on his list include Mont Blanc in summer and an expedition to 6900m Aconcagua in Argentina.