A Yorkshire businesswoman has completed her gruelling trek to the summit of Africa’s tallest peak in aid of Bradford teacher, Adam Pickles who was attacked in Thailand.Katie Jones, of Leeds, reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to watch the sun rise after six days of hiking and a seven-hour final climb in darkness and freezing temperatures.
The 36-year-old, whose efforts have raised hundreds with pledges still being made, said her life has been changed by the challenge dubbed “PickleManjaro” in aid of her friend Adam, who remains in a coma in Leeds General Infirmary.
“I had doubts as to whether I would make it to the top as it was so hard – physically, mentally and emotionally, said Katie. “The altitude made you feel lightheaded, sick, dizzy and so short of breath – it was really quite surreal. After that final climb, I found myself watching the most incredible sunrise across amazing glaciers. I had a massive smile on my face, partly in disbelief that I had actually made it to the roof of Africa.”
Katie marked her moment at the summit, which is 20,000 feet above sea level, by having her photograph taken with the specially made T-shirt in aid of close friend Adam, 40, who is still battling to wake up three months on from the brutal attack in Thailand that nearly killed him.
The 40-year-old father-of-one is making sound progress and has been moved from a high dependency unit to a neurological ward. Nurses have noticed clear movements in his facial expressions, some of which remind family and friends of the Keighley teacher’s famously broad smile.
Katie, who visited Adam at Christmas in Thailand just months before the attack, said thoughts of her close friend helped her keep going as fatigue and high emotion set in.
She said: “The temperatures at the very top hit -20 so it was so, so cold. I had seven layers on my upper body, plus three pairs of trousers, two hats and two pairs of gloves. My water pipe froze and my breathing was shallow because of the lack of oxygen.
“It was by far the biggest challenge of my life and an experience I will never forget – I loved every second and can honestly say it’s changed my life.”
The amount raised from Katie’s PickleManjaro challenge is yet to be finalised, with sponsorship still coming in, but has already reached hundreds of pounds.
The grand total will be added to overall funds raised so far, which now stands at about £80,000. Adam’s care in Thailand and repatriation fees totalled £123,000, but costs are expected to rise through the expense of legal bills involving his alleged attacker in Thailand, along with money need to help with rehabilitation.