In September 2016 four intrepid Team Bones supporters climbed the world's tallest free-standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, for the Bone Cancer Research Trust. Kieran and Harry told us more about the challenge of a lifetime...
Kieran Truefitt climbed Kili in memory of his friend Abe
To say it was the hardest experience in my life in an understatement. I'm pretty happy about that as I know there will nothing in my life more difficult (unless I climb Everest!) It was an experience I'll never forget and something I'm extremely proud of. It sounds like a cliche but I met some amazing people.
When we set off from base camp we were walking/climbing in pure darkness. As we looked up we saw what we thought were stars, but then realised they were actually the head torches of fellow climbers of other teams ahead of us. Then, the final hour of the climb was without doubt the most challenging thing I've ever done. Every step took an enormous amount of effort due to the altitude and fatigue. The sense of achievement once I had reached the top is something that is honestly difficult to imagine unless you have done it.
I just kept thinking of Abe and how I had promised him I'd do something after my training, and all the people who had sponsored me! I didn't really fancy coming home and saying I had almost made it to the top. After all I had been through to get to Africa, I WAS GETTING TO THE TOP. Also, in Abe's final few weeks, he commented that due to the cancer spreading to his lungs simple things like going to the toilet left him out of breath. At altitude this was how we all felt. It was a small way of experiencing a tiny bit of what he went through, and made me feel closer to him. When Abe was ill he couldn't make it to a holiday we all went on over the years, so I made a laminated cutout of him. We used it on that holiday to pose for pictures with him, which he could view on our return and let him know we were thinking of him. I took this with me up the mountain, so that I could say he was with me.
Harry Stevenson has been a longtime supporter of the Bone Cancer Research Trust
It seemed fitting that I should maybe end my period of best fitness by taking on the world's largest free standing mountain. The experience was unforgettable. Unimaginable. I have heard myself say on a number of occasions "I just can't explain what it was like to anyone unless you see it for yourself". I stand by that. It is such an unusual experience, I don't think there is anything that could match it.
I remember strip washing on day 3, just as we got high enough to recognise a dip in temperature...needless to say I didn't strip wash again! The climb to Stella Point, the final stage before the summit, was particularly difficult;when we got there we could see the summit for the first time. There was an incredible feeling of relief, but the feeling that stood out was emotions...everybody shed a tear at Stella Point, and if they say they didn't they are lying!
Are you interested in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the Bone Cancer Research Trust? Click here for details of how to get involved with our September 2017 trip!