Four colleagues are back at work having safely trekked the highest free-standing mountain in the world, raising thousands of pounds for charities in the process.
And their spokesman, John Wilson from Long Eaton, described their feelings at trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest, as “simply the best”.
John, Phil Green, and Darren Wood all work for Saint-Gobain PAM UK, based at Lows Lane, Stanton-by-Dale, near Ilkeston, and Simon Bennett now works for an associate company. They had spent almost two years planning the trip of as lifetime.
Having flown to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, they then crossed to Tanzania, where they were part of a group of 32 trekkers, accompanied by two doctors and and a support team of 118 local porters carrying the equipment.
The four hill-walkers had done plenty of training in Derbyshire and Britain’s three major peaks, Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scaffel Pike before trekking to Kilimanjaro’s 19,341ft summit.
“Although we were prepared, it was a much tougher physical and mental challenge than we thought it would be, said John(47), sales director, of Neale Street.
“The last 4,000 feet was one of the most difficult tasks we have ever done. We set off at 11.45pm with head torches strapped on and we were all wrapped up for the temperatures which had dropped to below minus 5deg C. ready for the final ascent ahead of us.
“The biggest problem was the lack of oxygen, which made breathing very difficult. You are breathing harder with nearly 50 per cent less oxygen and you certainly feel the effects.
“We all suffered from various levels of altitude sickness in the form of constant headaches, for which we had to take painkillers.”
John said the food they ate while on the mountain was high in calories as they burned off up to 9,000 calories a day.
The team achieved their goal of reaching the summit at 7.30 am after a final eight hours slog. “Emotions were running high,” said John.
“The view was fantastic. It gave us the feeling of being on top of the world. It was simply the best.
“The whole experience was the journey of a lifetime. It was the biggest expedition that we have undertaken. We are now talking about what to do next.”
John and colleagues are jokingly known as The Drain Gang because Saint-Gobain PAM UK is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cast iron and ductile pipes, fittings, and manhole covers for the water, drain and building industries.
Phil(43), of Maidwell Close, Belper, is head of technical sales; Simon(41), of Brunt Lane, Woodville, is a national account manager, and Darren(47), from Weymouth, Dorset, is a general manager.
Before setting off they had already raised the £15,000 they planned to help four charities. This was in sponsorship from relatives, friends, and business associates and £1,000 per head from their employer.
Money will go to Water Aid, because of Saint-Gobain PAM UK’s links with the water industry, Help the Heroes, because Darren was in the armed forces, and Breast Cancer Care and Macmillan Cancer Support because the four men all know somebody who had suffered cancer and is being treated.
So far they have raised more than £16,000 and hope to reach a grand total of £20,000. Anyone wishing to donate can do so by http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/draingang