Friends find summit to challenge them

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A CHANCE remark among a group of friends has led to eight north Northumberland women preparing to take on one of the world’s highest mountains.

The friends meet regularly and during one conversation someone suggested they needed a personal challenge – and that was the start of it.

“It quickly developed into something very challenging indeed,” said Jane McHugh, from the Red Lion in Alnmouth. “Eight of us are flying to Tanzania in early February to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and hopefully raise money for charity in the process.”

A second member of the group, Rhonda Miller, is also from Alnmouth. The others are from elsewhere in Northumberland and the North East.

Rhonda, who works in the housing industry, said: “We’re now in strict training, but I think we’ll still manage some turkey on Christmas day.”

The 19,341-foot climb will take six days and they will be spending the nights in tents, in areas where temperatures can fall to minus 20 or hit 30 degrees.

Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and has become a target for charity fund-raisers wanting to push their limits by tackling a major mountain without the risk of having to actually climb.

Even though the summit can be reached by walking, only 30 per cent of those who try actually succeed. All trekkers – even seasoned mountaineers – are said to suffer considerable discomfort on the ascent, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches.

And a few actually die each year in pursuit of their goal, succumbing to hypothermia, brain haemorrhages or even heart attacks.

The friends are financing the trip themselves but would welcome donations, which will be given to their respective charities.

Jane is raising money for Help for Heroes, and Rhonda for Alzheimers Research.

If you can help, contact Jane at the Red Lion in Alnmouth, call her on 01665 830584 or email her at