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News > Alumni news > Harry Cook (Class of 2021) Tells us About his Expedition to Climb Kilimanjaro

Harry Cook (Class of 2021) Tells us About his Expedition to Climb Kilimanjaro

Harry Cook came in recently to talk to the Sixth Form about an amazing challenge he has set himself, to reach outside his comfort zone and face the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania and part of Kilimanjaro National Park.It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world: 5,895 m (19,341 ft).

Here he tells TWGSB Connect all about his venture and how we can support him and the charity he is raising funds for the charity Dig Deep

Photo by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash

What made you take on this challenge and what inspired you?

“This opportunity came to me via university  (I’m at Loughborough) and there’s a student union who hold these amazing RAG Fundraising challenges which range from following the Machu Picchu trail to the three Peaks challenge in the UK and everything in between.  This challenge climbing Mnt. Kilimanjaro jumped out at me as my grandad did this too, 30 years ago. I believe he just went with a friend of his own accord which is risky and amazing, however I would feel more comfortable by attempting the expedtion with a really well organised organisation running it.  

There is something inspiring and spiritual about following my grandfather’s footsteps up the mountain – it really resonates with me and will be quite emotional and exciting.  As I explained to the Sixth Form, I really struggled with my mental health during my first year at uni and I believe this challenge will be good for my body and mind as well as my health.  

I shared with the students that it’s ok to feel like that in a new environment and to have the courage to realise that if you aren’t enjoying your time there, or your course, do something about it. I changed course and it was the best thing I could have done as I'm really enjoying my time at Loughborough now.   This year is all about challenges for me, so even public speaking to the TWGSB Sixth Form was a challenge that I wanted to overcome as I’m not a confident public speaker yet”. 

Harry's recent talk to the Sixth Form 

Was the charity for this particular challenge or did you individually choose this charity?

“ Dig Deep run these challenges but I liked the resonance of it's similar goals to Water Aid, which I've been told my grandfather was one of the founders of, and he raised £1000 for that charity by climbing the mountain,  so we both end up climbing for similar benefactors.

Dig Deep believe that everyone has the fundamental right to clean water, safe toilets and good hygiene.

(Photo credit: Universities, RAGs and Students | Dig Deep Challenges)

My fundraising target is £2,950 – 50% will be donated directly to the charity while the other 50% contributes to my expedition costs."

(Photo credit: Universities, RAGs and Students | Dig Deep Challenges)

How will you prepare for this challenge?

“The experts say that all you need to do to prepare is long walks. This challenge is all about stamina and because I have two dogs, that works well for me – we have big fields out the back of my house so I take them for long walks which is a good starting point.  They also recommend going to the gym to do incline walks and runs which I’m taking full advantage of. We will be walking 6-8 hours a day so I need to keep fit and healthy, keep going to the gym and eating well; I’ve also joined the boxing club at Loughborough – I’m in the right place for fitness and health regimes and sport!

I will also spend the summer mountaineering in Wales as a practice run – with my walking boots and camping out overnight”.

How long do you estimate the climb will take?

“ It is a difficult climb with recent research suggesting that over 50% of those who attempt to climb it suffer from mountain sickness and just over 65% of them are unable to reach the summit. Endurance athletes and explorers can do the climb in a day or two I believe, but the organisation running it do it really safely and in a very organised and structured way – that’s how they maintain a 90% success rate for their delegates. 

It is 5 nights and 6 days held from 21st-26th August and the route takes us down the mountain a little each evening so that we can sleep more safely and adjust to the altitude more easily – so we zig-zag our way up the mountain.  There is a first aider, group leaders and team leaders to ensure everyone’s safety throughout the climb.  

We have been warned it takes everything out of you with stamina, strength and endurance so the organisation suggest making the most of the long journey and book in for some fun and relaxation after the event so that you don’t return home broken; Also to really get a feel of such an amazing country!  Some of us will go on safari and have a relaxing few days in a hotel afterwards to recharge our batteries – that is self-funded however – not with any donation money! (just to be clear!)

Photo by Stephan Bechert on Unsplash

Any support to help me reach my target and raise funds for a really worthy cause would be much appreciated! Please use the QR code on the poster above to donate to my page or visit my fundraising page:

I’m sure we can rely on our TWGSB community to dig deep and sponsor Harry on his expedition and support such a worthwhile charity.

Harry, please keep us updated with how it goes and some amazing photos! All the best of luck from us all! 

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