This week, we are introducing Paul Salter, PhotoBox’s very own User Experience Architect, who recently took on the formidable task of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – all in the name of charity Childreach; the raised money went to a school in Africa. Here is an insight into his experiences and how this daring encounter has left him craving more.
1. What motivated you to go there?
Adventure! This was coupled with my desire to do something that truly makes a difference and for a charity, Childreach. Though if I am totally honest, it stemmed from one of my colleague’s ideas at PhotoBox. Whilst I was a junior, he told me about his desire to do it someday, and a few years later, I saw Childreach advertising the challenge and thought, I’ll do it! I then promptly went home and signed up.
2. How long did the whole climb take?
I did the Machame route – which is not just the most popular route, but it is one of the most difficult routes due to lack of acclimatization. So it took four days and one night to get to the summit and then a day and a half to return to the point at which we could breathe properly… and get a bus back to civilisation!
3. How much preparation was there involved (for travel preparations, injections and so on)?
A lot. I was a pincushion leading up to it. I had 15 days off in the end for the climb, so a tidy three weeks off work!
4. What were the highlights of your trip?
- Meeting James (below) - an orphan I happened to have the pleasure of meeting before my climb.
- Playing what I like to call ‘danger football’ (rocks, hills & potholes the size of a car on the field) with the kids from the school that the raised money went to.
- Walking through Moshi on my own and happening to make friends with some locals who I had a beer with.
- The camaraderie with my fellow trekkers.
- Hitting the second to last summit (this was the hardest part of the whole trek).
5. Did you have to overcome any fears or unexpected hardships before/during the climb?
No fears really – the main hardships were fatigue and altitude sickness. I ended up hallucinating a little bit on summit night, I kept seeing people running past my left and right and no one could run at that altitude!
6. How did you feel when you reached the summit of Kilimanjaro? What was the view like?
EPIC!! I’ve not felt anything like it before, it was pure elation and the views were breathtaking. It was just out of this world – my pictures and my poor attempt at an explanation will never do justice to the real experience.
7. What’s next on your list of crazy adventures?
In the near-ish future, Tough Mudder round 2 – then possibly Mount McKinley is something further down the line I’d love to do.
8. What did you do to recover/relax afterwards?
A safari and a trip to Zanzibar, the beard had to come off in Zanzibar!
9. Have you started sorting through your pictures yet?
Nope not really – I’m renowned for being god awful at this; Photo Books will be created and purchased though!
10. Is it truly a once in a lifetime travel experience?
Yes, and it’s a great starting point for the little adventurer in you. I promise that you’ll forget the pains afterwards and crave for more.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you had any life-changing experiences? If so, please share them with us at the end of this article along with any questions that you may have for our internal hero, Paul!
All photographs © Paul Salter