Mount Kilimanjaro conquered for charity

Seamus McConnellogue pictured at the summit of Kilimanjaro last week.

Seamus McConnellogue pictured at the summit of Kilimanjaro last week.

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A young administration worker at Altnagelvin Hospital has completed a tremendous feat to raise money to help ease the plight of those suffering from dementia.

Seamus McConnellogue, a ward clerk on the trauma and orthopaedic fracture ward at the city’s hospital recently climbed Africa’s highest mountain and in the process raised thousands of pounds.

The famous mountain as captured by Seamus McConnellogue.

The famous mountain as captured by Seamus McConnellogue.

The Derry man spent from October 21 to November 1 completing the gruelling feat.

To put the task into perspective, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 5,8985 metres, that’s 16,001 feet.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Seamus who had no previous experience of mountaineering said: “I wanted to do this in order to raise funds for older people suffering from dementia.

“I paid for the trip myself, which cost around £3,000 and provided for the travel to Tanzania as well as instruction for the climb from the guides who climb with you.

“So far I have raised about £4,000 from the climb. I have to say all the staff in Africa were unbelievable.”

Seamus admitted that the ascent of the famous peak was arduous.

“He told the ‘Journal’: “The ascent was very hard at times. It was very tough. I experienced altitude sickness and at night it was extremely cold. Sometimes the temperature dropped to minus 10 or minus 15 degrees.

“And, at times as well the wind chill factor made it feel even colder.”

Seamus also revealeed that it took a total of six days to Climb Mount Kilmanjaro and one and half days to descend back to base camp.

“Once we started the ascent at night it was very hard. All our water supplies froze up and it became much more difficult physically.

“But no matter how cold, how wet or how tired we all felt, I just rememered that the life of a dementia sufferer is so much harder. So no matter what the circumstances, this thought gave me trhe grit and determination to continue on with the climb,” he said.

The money raised by Seamus McConnellogue will now go to help automated wheelchairs for people with the condition.

His colleague at Altnagelvin, Nurse Keavsa Dunne told the ‘Journal’ she thought Seamus was simply “an inspirational young man.”

The first recorded ascent of Kilimanjaro was in 1889. The moutain is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and experts believe that the volcanic acitivity on the peak began over 2.5 million years ago.

The moutain is drained by a network of rivers and streams, especially on the wetter and more heavily eroded southern side and especially above 1,200 metres. The origin of the name is unclear but ‘Kilimanjaro’ was adopted by explorers in 1860.