Conquering the mountain

QUEENS OF THE MOUNTAIN: Mari Van Dyk from Cape Town, left, and Lee-Ann-King at Kibo Hut before they reached the Uhuru peak of Mount Kilimanjaro recently. Picture: SUPPLIED

A gruelling but beautiful five-day climb to summit Africa’s highest peak –to Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania –  Africa’s highest peak, by East London local Lee-Ann King culminated with King’s team finally reaching the summit on Women’s Day as part of the Trek4Mandela initiative.

The initiative aims to raise funds for the Caring4Girls menstrual hygiene programme and hopes to reach two million disadvantaged girls by 2020.

King was part of a 23-person expedition which included former public protector Professor Thuli Madonsela.

King described reaching the summit as the most amazing experience that she had ever had.

“It was awesome and one of the the toughest things I have done in my life.

“We started the climb on Monday through the rainforest and it was only on Tuesday, when I saw the peak of the mountain,” King said.

King was the only person from the Eastern Cape to take part.

She described the climb through the middle camp, above the cloud line, as a feeling of “being in heaven”.

“The whole way up from there was a monotonous, hard walk but you draw strength from each other and the guides were really great. I was physically prepared, but nothing can prepare you for the altitude,” King said.

For Madonsela, the experience was unlike anything she could have expected.

“It was full of thrills, twists and turns. The biggest lessons by far were to conquer the mountain within us, and realising the strength and courage one can muster when focusing on the commitments we made to serving these girls in order for them to be able to conquer their own mountains,” she said.

King would recommend to anyone to take up the challenge themselves.

“The focus of the walk is about dignity for girls and we are still getting sanitary towels in, and will be distributing them soon.

“A sincere thank you to the East London community,” she said.

To donate to the project, e-mail King on



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