Earlier this year, LoFric user Ina Åkerberg set off to climb Africa's fourth highest mountain, Mount Meru, with the aid of wheelchair and crutches. Ina has since completed the trek and returned. Here she shares her story of this remarkable adventure.
We started the trek from 1500 metres up. The team consisted of David, Lisa and I, all in wheelchairs. Sara and Liiso from Sweden are joining as well, with a further six people from Germany and Theresa, who worked for several years as a doctor in a hospital in Tansania, joins us every now and then.
The roads and paths were in good condition, although we still did stumble into muddy puddles, a narrow bridge and areas covered in rocks and pebbles. Naturally, the path has a steep angle upwards the whole time, but fortunately the gear worked and I got plenty of help from two of my team members. Sweaty and tired, we reached 2500 metres! Felt like an historical achievement: somebody did this in a wheelchair! We did it!!!
Today's challenge is to get to 3500 metres. We faced steep cliffs, uneven and rocky surfaces and I instructed the team as to how they could help me in the best way possible. The terrain is demanding and soon David and Lisa, both in wheelchairs, took the decision not to carry on. We soldiered on, armed with resolve, strength and laughter to encourage us; we even had our own Mount Meru song!
We made it to our goal, Saddle Hut. What a feeling to achieve this! Our gratitude was expressed in shedding tears of joy. We went a bit further to acclimatise - final number for the day: 1100 metres!
Day 3: summit day
Alarm was set for 03.30, summit in sight. Little Mount Meru... The road up to the top was a steep and meandering, ending in rocky walls - I had to start using my hands and feet to progress further. It was getting brighter, the sun was rising and we felt euphoric about our achievement as we reached the top - only to discover that there is one more portion to climb, just as high and steep.
Summoning our strength, we moved on to the summit - 3820 metres! Everyone was filled with joy, sharing in the experience as we sang and celebrated, so happy about our achievement.
I am the first wheelchair-bound person in history to have climbed Mount Meru!
The purpose of this hike is to raise funds for building a "House of Hope" in Haydom, Tanzania. And with every metre climbed, the establishment of a rehabilitation centre for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus drew closer. There will be treatment and post-surgery care available for children who have gone through life-saving procedures; as well as medicine, support and essential practical training provision to support them in life.
Wellspect are proud sponsors of this noble project and congratulate Ina on this stunning achievement