Climb Kiliminjaro twice? Not something many of us could claim to have done, in fact most of us would probably be thinking that once is more than enough and thinking about it is probably as far as we would have got.
Not local man Ben Jacobs though, he has now completed the task twice, raising money for charity both times. This most recent one being in aid of Comic relief assisting 9 celebrities on their way up and down the mountain.
With his company the Kings Knight group, Ben has looked after such names as Rhianna and A$AP Rocky, but he rates this as one of the hardest challenges in his professional career, “The challenge for me was to do my job, whilst climbing a mountain. Looking after 9 celebrities and the BBC crew who were making a documentary on the climb was a real test of my skills. They depended on me but we all worked really well together as a team.” Says Ben
So with this extreme physical exertion I wondered how much training one would need, Ben laughs as he recounts his preparation, “I was given 2 months notice but had to work for a month of it. So a month before the climb I began being dropped off 15-20 miles from home by my wife and then walking back, I loaded up heavy packs and walked with them too. I did this about 2-3 times a week.”
One thing the training may not be able to prepare you for is the altitude and the effects it can have on the body, “The oxygen levels can really affect you at around 2500-3000m and you can start getting headaches and nausea, I was lucky not to suffer from that but both of my feet really swelled up which made it really tough and the whole team at some point felt the effects of such a climb”
The Celebrities really impressed Ben though, “They all did so well and throughout they were always so determined to raise as much money as possible. I was really surprised by Leigh-Ann and Jade from Little Mix as well as Dani Dyer. Those three were so positive and worked so hard to achieve the goal.”
You may remember that a similar expedition was carried out in aid of Comic relief 10 years ago and this years attempt has been renamed “Kiliminjaro: The return” This time though it wa a different route that was taken, “10 years ago they completed it via the Southern circuit, this time it was the Northern. One that is seen as having a greater chance of success but harder to climb.” says Ben.
I wondered how Ben found himself in such a position, ” It was word of mouth really, I am quite well known through my job and the organiser of the trek had known of my previous roles, recomended me and then it all came from there.”
With the 7 day expedition now complete and Ben back in more familiar surroundings it must be nice to know he has helped people make an incredible impact on a very well known charity, “It is amazing. When we finished the climb we were told that the figure raised so far for Comic relief this year had hit £800,000 already. Seeing the work that is done through the money raised is just incredible. Thanks to comic relief, Malaria has been totally wiped out in some areas. Things like that are amazing.”
A documentary following the climb aired on BBC on Wednesday but if you missed it get on to the iPlayer to see how the celebrities fared on their expedition and how the money raised is helping others.
You can donate via the website if you wish to help raise essential funds via https://donation.