A north Northumberland man has returned this week after the trip of a lifetime climbing the highest mountain in Africa.
Paul Barcham, who lives near Belford, headed to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, along the Machame route to the summit, to raise funds for charity.
And now he can look back on a memorable trip, in which he conquered the mighty mountain.
“Well I’m back, in one piece, with the memories of a lifetime having successfully climbed the highest free-standing mountain in the world for Make-A-Wish Foundation UK,” he said.
He was part of a trek of 11 people, who were all taking on the climb for different charities, as well as a leader and doctor.
Paul said the others, who came from all walks of life – doctors, nurses, firemen, property developers, administrators, trainers and retail managers, became his ‘great companions’ over the 10 days.
And the moment he reached the summit will stay with him forever.
“We climbed around the edge of the crater and as we came through a rocky outcrop, we saw the summit only a few hundred metres away,” he said.
“The emotions began to flow, the pace unbelievably quickened, energy coming from nowhere and at 7am on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, I reached Uhuru Peak at 5,895m, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world and the roof of Africa.”
Eight of the 11 climbers made it to the summit, but a worrying incident reminded everyone of the dangers involved in the trek.
Ahead of the ascent to the summit, Paul and four others had got ahead of the rest of the party, without knowing why until a call on the radio.
“At that instant, the reality of what we were doing hit home. One of our group was seriously ill. She was being treated by the doctor in an emergency shelter on the mountain side having suffered from multiple seizures.
“It was sobering to hear the seriousness of the incident and for a while we were all quiet, reflecting on what was happening as we trudged ever upwards.”