Overcoming MS fundraiser, beloved son, and true inspiration, Charlie Denton spent the first week of March climbing the world’s highest free-standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. (And this was after trekking over 300km through Tanzania to get to it.)
A loving son
He did this because his mum, Charlotte, has MS. She follows the Overcoming MS Program, and Charlie decided he would do the climb to raise money in order to help Overcoming MS continue the work it does.
It is therefore with pride that Charlotte sent us the story, and some pictures from Charlie’s climb. Charlotte tells us how Charlie set off through the Machame Gate located at the southern base of the mountain at 1,640m, walking through the lush and verdant mountainside and passing many different ecosystems to the 5,895m summit.
By 4,000m, when he reached the Saddle, only three species of tussock grass and a few everlastings remained as they are the only plants that can withstand the extreme conditions.
It is the alpine desert, where plants have to survive in drought conditions of less than 200mm precipitation per year, and put up with both inordinate cold and intense sun, usually in the same day. Ferns and lichens were the last plants Charlie saw on the ascent, before the altitude made it simply too cold for anything to grow.
Nearing the summit
At 4,673m, from the last camp, Charlie faced the final climb. In order to arrive at the summit for 7am, when there would be more chance of clear skies, they left the camp at 10pm to walk through the night, guided by miners’ lights.
The cold at this altitude is extreme, and the last 1000m of the climb was mainly rock screed and snow. At 5,895m, their group all made the summit. Charlie was at the top of Kilimanjaro on the morning of March 6, Mothers Day.
They were only allowed to stop for a maximum of 30 minutes, due to a dangerous lack of oxygen at that height (one of the group had to descend quickly due to delusions caused by altitude sickness). Asked how he felt at the top, Charlie said "breathless, disorientated, and exhausted, but totally elated".
With the final photos taken and the unbelievable views committed to memory, they returned to the last camp. The descent took only two hours as they went straight down rather than following the zig-zag route they’d used to get to the top.
Here they had a meal but had to keep moving, and descended another four hours before they were finally able to stop and sleep – which Charlie did for 14 hours straight, such was the exhaustion.
For Charlie, for Charlotte and for Overcoming MS, the magnitude of the achievement is incredible, although Charlie said he would have preferred to feel more in the moment itself. He says the climb had many ‘dig deep’ moments where it took sheer grit and determination to get through.
Charlie’s fundraising climbed with the determination he did, bypassing his original target of £2,750 and eventually totalling over £3,000 for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis.Last camp approx 4,673m before the final climb. Leaving at 10pm to walk through the night with miners' lights. It is extremely cold at this altitude. The last 1000m is mainly rock screed and snow