SKY HIGH: Paul Hehir was relieved to reach the peak of the mountain.
SKY HIGH: Paul Hehir was relieved to reach the peak of the mountain. Contributed

Gympie man climbs Mt Kilimanjaro in four days

IT'S A LONG way to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, especially from Gympie, and Paul Hehir is one man who knows.

In September he spent three weeks travelling throughout Africa, with the first stop the peak of the mountain.

This is the 50-year-old's 12th overseas trip and he may have "seen a bit of the world" but completing the 5895 metre climb was a goal for some time.

"It was on my radar for many years," Mr Hehir said.

He climbed the mountain with a group of five travellers.

The first three days they trekked for about six hours, with three guides and porters to carry some of the gear.

They managed to reach the peak in four and a half days, which Mr Hehir said was very quick to do.

"A safe ascent is five to 10 days," he said.

"Altitude was a big challenge."

 

He trained by walking, climbing Pomona Mountain and eight-hour hikes.

Although he said he could have been fitter, he thought he fared pretty well but the stint to the last peak was tough.

It took six hours and the climbers began their ascent at midnight to reach the top by sunrise.

"About half way up it hit me, I didn't have anything left in the tank but it's worth it ... unreal experience," Mr Hehir said.

Once there, Mr Hehir said the temperature was minus 10 degrees celcius and it was windy.

While it took days getting there, coming down the other side only took two and a half hours - in fact they ran down.

Once on level ground, Mr Hehir spent another eight days sight-seeing.

For four days he travelled on safaris througout the wilderness and then relaxed in Zanzibar, which he said was home to beautiful beaches.

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