Lincolnshire dinner lady left in 'awe' after summiting 5,895m high mountain
Joanne Self-Shutts joined a charity expedition to climb the 19,341ft peak to raise money in memory of her late husband.
The fifty year-old, who works as a dinner lady at Giles Academy and as a volunteer Coastguard rescue officer, trekked through humid rainforest and desert-like terrain on her way to the freezing cold summit.
It was a real ‘test of endurance’ for the mum of one, who said it took ‘tiny steps’ to finally reach the top after seven days on foot.
The final push to the summit meant setting off in the dark and climbing for eight hours straight.
"It was like being on the moon, dark, grey, dusty and full of footsteps in the torchlight,” said Joanne.
"I was so determined to reach the summit that I would have clawed my way up if I had to.”
But Joanne managed to reach the pinnacle on foot – summiting at 7.20am on the August 19. It took her eight hours to climb the final 7km.
"The view is incredible and worth every breath and tiny step,” she added.
Joanne took part in the climb as part of a group called ‘Team Tortoise’, along with her friend Lorraine Fountain.
"It took a team of 44 people to get a group of 12 up that mountain and I remain in awe of their strength and determination and ease at how they transported our life and basic comforts up that mountain with a smile on their faces,” she said.
"There are no words or pictures that will do any of my recent experience justice.
“They don't truly show the terrain, or how biting -20C can be. The distances mean nothing until you walk them in the thinning air.
"They don't show how demoralising it is to climb a mountain only to then climb back down to sleep at the same height you started at hours before, in order to help your body acclimatise to the lack of oxygen. They don’t show the forcing down of food or the minimum of 3 litres of water you need to drink a day. The whole experience is an endurance test.”
Joanne is now back at her home in Leverton nursing aching muscles and swollen feet.
She took on the challenge to raise money for a charity her late husband Dave set up before his death from cancer in 2018. The charity ASTRIID works to connect people with long-term health conditions with meaningful work.
Joanne paid for her Kilimanjaro trip herself so all the money she raises goes straight to the charity. So far, she has raised £2,379, but you can still donate to her appeal by visiting her Justgiving page.