A 36-year old Sutton resident, Sal Bolton, has found herself standing on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro to help raise awareness and funds for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E.) – a condition which affects her twin sister.
“Standing at 5.895 metres, making it Africa’s highest point and the worlds highest free standing mountain, I have a huge fondness for Africa and had always wanted to attempt to reach ‘The Roof of Africa’ as my #1 physical challenge,” said Sal.
“It was quite an ambition, having never been at extreme high altitude before so I had no real idea how my body would react as it is a complete lottery how you get affected, but I also knew I had the dogged determination and potential to endure the hardship and give it my best shot for those suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E).
“I trained over 6 months with The Gym Group, Sutton four times a week, weekend training walks in Boxhill, a hiking week in the Lake District and a session at the Altitude Centre in London to prepare myself for the challenge ahead.
“I also wanted to use this epic expedition as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for ‘Action for M.E’ who have helped my twin sister cope with living with Chronic Fatigue for over 10 years. Before she was diagnosed, my sister like myself led a very active, interesting lifestyle, many dreams, many ambitions and aspirations before they were derailed by the onset of M.E and the years of humiliation, neglect and injustice that would follow from ignorant views of society and the medical profession as her condition worsened, robbing her of energy to live a normal functioning life.
“In October 2019, I embarked on a 6 day ascent to the ‘Roof of Africa’ in Tanzania with Kandoo Adventures, hiking from montane forest through five different climate zones to the arctic glacial summit in support of charity ‘Action For M.E’. From day one, I battled my own difficulties through torrential rain to freezing weather conditions on the mountain. I was drinking 3 litres of water a day, taking Diamox to relieve the painful headaches and tough hardship of altitude sickness and pushed through exhausting fatigue as I battled each day closer to the summit. During these difficult times pushing with each step through the elements on the expedition ‘breathing and believing’, I would remind myself of all the people who believed in me and their support for my dream and all the sufferers of M.E like my sister who I was helping, who didn’t have the opportunity I had to be in Africa and who go through the same fatigue and hardships everyday of their lives which I could temporarily endure to just keep pushing me just that little bit further to the top.
“After a 9.5 hour last hike through the mental toughness of the arctic night, I reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro on Day 7 and so far has raised over £1,200 for Action for M.E and welcome any post trip donations for my efforts through my Just Giving page, so the charity can continue their work of raising awareness and help for my sister and the thousands of others in the UK coping with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I hope my challenge will make a positive difference to their lives. “