Marcus’ Mountain Grand Slam goes to Africa…

09 Dec
In June this year, Marcus from the Groundforce Shorco technical team began embarking on a challenge to conquer mountain peaks in Wales, Tanzania and Argentina, in an attempt to raise £1000 for Prostate Cancer Research.

Groundforce are pleased to be sponsoring Marcus on his challenge, ensuring he was able to purchase necessary clothing for the climbs. We caught-up with him on his return, to see how he got on:

Can you talk us through the climb up Kilimanjaro?

Despite less than 1% of climbers choosing to make their ascent via the Breach Wall, we went with this less-travelled route. Taking us from base to summit in just under 5 days. The first day saw us follow a steep-angled and muddy trail for 6 hours, which carved through the dense rainforest, where we saw Colobus Monkeys through the canopy above.

Day 2 saw us break out of the rainforest and onto the moorland zone. It was quite surreal, surrounded by mist, lava-flows and deep canyons. The area, overgrown with unique-looking vegetation, was straight out of a Dr Seuss story.

We awoke on Day 3 to another bitterly cold morning, beginning to feel the wear from our third day spent at altitude. We spent the day acclimatising, exploring the surrounding area of Barranco Camp and scaling the Breakfast Wall; an easy-angled scramble up a 257m rock face.

On the fourth day, we began our journey into High Camp; our final push towards the summit began at 1am. With a wind-chill nearing -12C, it was jarringly cold. We began in our slow ascent toward Uhuru Peak – our final goal; it was at least 7.5 hours away.

During that final climb toward Uhuru Peak, did you face any particular obstacles?

Around 2 hours in, we approached a feature known as the ‘Rock Train’; an exposed snake like ridge of jagged rock, which jutted from the mountainside. This formed a broken path up to the summit- negotiating this precarious section had one simple rule: do not fall!

How did you feel once you approached the final summit?

This was a huge moment for me. I had followed through on a long-standing promise to my late grandmother: to make a second attempt on the mountain and reach its summit. After 12 long months of training and a hard-fought journey, I had finally made it to the roof of Africa.

What was the defining moment for you on this trip?

Making our final descent off Mount Meru and coming out onto the Savannah, getting within a few short paces of a herd of grazing giraffe.

At what point during the climb were you at your lowest?

Making a midnight journey to the high-camp long-drop latrine, I would give it a -3/10, never again.

What was the biggest challenge for you during the entire climb?

Altitude sickness; despite training hard in the months leading up to an expedition, it all comes down to how your body adapts. It can easily end your trip. That and spending an extended period living out of a tent, in close proximity to a complete stranger. Earplugs are essential.

Can you sum-up how you think the challenge is going so far?

The training has been brutal and I know it will step-up again in the final months before Anconcagua. The unexpected support I received from both my friends and colleagues has been an immensely pleasant surprise, along with watching my fundraising target edge ever closer makes it all worthwhile.

Marcus has just one final climb left to do as part of his grand slam. On the 17th December, he will embark on Cerro Aconcagua – a remote mountain in the high Andes, nearing 7000m in height. He is almost half-way to his fundraising target of £1000, any donations toward Marcus’ fundraising goal are greatly appreciated by both himself, the charity and all those affected by Prostate Cancer.

Donate via Marcus’ fundraising page