Ruairi Mensink, Veronica Horan, Ciarán O'Sullivan, Colleen Nolan, Joanne Langton, Roisin Nolan, Doireann Langan, and Daithí Horan at the summit of Kilimanjaro.

No mountain too tall

A group of 10 friends brought together during Covid-19, including 3 men from West Cork, have scaled Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity.

Hailing from 6 counties, the 10 new friends discovered their shared love for hiking during the pandemic and decided to channel their newfound passion into raising funds for various charities while also encouraging others to take up hiking.

From 7-13 August, as part of the Get Up that Hill (GUTH) initiative, the friends tested their physical and mental endurance to the limit by scaling the 5,895 metres of Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and one of the Seven Summits.

The trip was entirely self-funded by the group, with 100% of the funds raised to be divided equally between three charities: the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA), Save Elders Tanzania; and the Irish Kidney Association (IKA).

So far, the group has raised €11,500 through their GoFundMe campaign,

The 10 young men and women are: Veronica Horan (Wexford); Colleen Nolan (Wexford); Joanne Langton (Laois); Maedbh Hurst (Galway); Roisin Nolan (Galway); Daithí Horan (Kildare); Ruairi Mensink (Cork); Ciarán O'Sullivan (Cork); Seamus Lyons (Cork) and Doireann Langan (Westmeath).

Cork man Ciarán O’Sullivan, who works in operations for Australian tech company Halaxy, described the experience of climbing Kilimanjaro as a phenomenal experience and an unforgettable personal achievement.

“Seamus, Ruairi and myself went to the same school together, Beara Community School. Through networking and our college connections, there are now ten of us who, together, hiked Kilimanjaro and have forged friendships for life.

“It took us 7 days and 6 nights to complete and in that time, we hiked through rainforest, moorland, and the daily changes in temperature of the alpine desert from extreme heat to freezing cold.

“The scenery was spectacular and different every single day and the terrain and altitude changes brought different challenges including headaches, muscle pain and difficulty breathing.

“Fortunately, we had recruited 4 local guides who could help us prepare and navigate through the terrain and, when our resolve began to falter, we gave each other encouragement to push through, motivated by our pledge to help 3 deserving causes.”

To honour the memory of Maedbh Hurst’s grandmother Betty O’Hare, who passed away with Motor Neurone Disease before Maedbh was born, the IMNDA was chosen to receive some of the fundraising proceeds. The charity delivers support to over 400 families suffering with MND around Ireland.

Also, wanting to give back to the African country hosting the ten hikers’ expedition, the group set about identifying a worthy charity in Tanzania. Group member Colleen Nolan contacted her old friend, Precious, who is a native of Tanzania and asked if she could recommend any local charities there. Precious’s cousin Sarah had set up a charity there called Save Elders Tanzania to support senior citizens.

Before returning to work, the entire group enjoyed a 5 day safari, taking in Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks, while also having the opportunity to drive into the Ngorongoro Crater. They also saw many impressive animals in their natural habitat and were especially fortunate to see all members of the big 5, the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo.