CLIMBING KILIMANJARO: ANNELISE MELI

The tenth Kilimanjaro team is currently making its intense preparations for its climb up Africa’s highest mountain, in order to raise funds and create life-enhancing constructions and facilities in countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia. The challenge has inspired so many people and has helped make a difference in places far beyond our shores. One such person who’ll be part of this project is Annelise Meli, with whom we’ve caught up to see how things are progressing.

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What compelled you to join the Kilimanjaro Team this year?

I’m always up for a new challenge, and I usually try to have an exciting plan to keep me going throughout the year. I heard about the challenge through friends who’ve participated in previous years, and seeing their amazing photos made me want to accomplish it even more. I went on the Facebook page and asked to join the group in February, and after attending the first meeting, I just knew that I had to do it. My family and friends initially thought that it was just a current craze, but are now giving me their full support. I’m aware that Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and even though I’ve never climbed one before, I’m determined to complete the challenge, raise funds and reach the summit, no matter what.

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You’re currently preparing yourselves physically to climb a 16,000ft mountain in extreme weather conditions. How are psychologically preparing yourselves?

Although we can never really be prepared for the extreme weather conditions, past participants have advised us to be physically fit. We’ve been training a minimum of three times a week, usually between 3-4 hours, varying between trekking, stairs training and hill training. It’s not the training that’s most challenging, but finding the time to include all of it into my routine whilst balancing my work and social life. Unfortunately, I’ve been spending less time with my family and friends, but the training sessions and fundraising activities are helping us bond as a team and bringing us closer together. With three months to go, I’m determined to focus more on training to help me reach the top.

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What are you most looking forward to experiencing, and what are your apprehensions for the journey?

I’m looking forward to visiting another continent and to tick off reaching one of the seven summits from my bucket list. Members from last year’s challenge have said that Ethiopia was the best part of the trip and life changing, so I’m mostly looking forward to seeing our project there, and to experience a new culture. My only concern is failing to reach the summit due to altitude sickness. That would be devastating. But even though we’ll be sleep deprived and exhausted in the freezing cold, I’m willing do anything it takes to reach the top of Africa.

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If you could take one thing or person with you up the mountain, what or who would it be?

A bathroom. It would be amazing if I could snap my fingers and a decent toilet and shower would just appear on the mountain.

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