2 03 2009

I was, for the first time in a while, listening to Radio 1 on my way home from work this morning. The return of Jo Whiley to replace the perennially annoying Sara Cox (who cannot pronounce her own name right, never mind anything else) did much to convince me to switch the station. Anyway, Jo Whiley spoke to Chris Moyles on her show. This is the same Chris Moyles who is currently in Africa plodding his way up Mount Kilimanjaro along with other “celebrities” to raise money for Comic Relief.

As I listened to Moyles genuinely struggling his way through the interview, I thought back to my time at the top of Africa. I’m reasonably sure that I would not want to be interviewed by anyone, let alone someone in the relative comfort of a radio studio in London. More than that though, I became convinced that the some of the “celeb” team will not make it to the top. There are logical reasons I say this:

1. They did no acclimatisation. This was a fundamental part of our trip, and a hugely important part in dealing with any potential altitude related problems that might occur. I believe, through my own experience, that everyone needs to get used to the country, the weather and the heights, as well as the important combination of all three. If they don’t then they are, and indeed have, affected their chances of success.

2. The fitness of the team can be questioned. I have heard reports that some members of the team (Alesha Dixon) did little or no training for the climb. This is stupid and foolish. I did pretty much two years of training for my climb and was still barely fit enough. What matters is stamina though, and this was built up through practise climbs, both in Britain and Tanzania. The “celebs” haven’t done this to anywhere near the same extent I don’t think.

3. The altitude. It will almost certainly get someone. If it hasn’t by the dawning of the final assault, it will during it. The last climb is perhaps the sharpest and quickest of the trip. Done during the night when temperatures are near freezing, I would be very surprised if no-one was affected.

So, I repeat, I am not convinced that all will make it. But there is another gripe I have with this. Whilst I get it is for charity, I fundamentally think it is the wrong charity. “Comic” relief, it’s in the name isn’t it? The funds should be raised through comic means, shouldn’t they? Perhaps I’m being too critical here, but this ‘comic’ idea has amost gone from the event, save on the night of the show itself. It has now become a chance for the BBC to show the nation what a charitable organisation it is. I think there are other charities, which have considerably less publicity which perhaps deserve an equal chance of earning such revenues. There are plenty of charities working in Africa which get nowhere near the same help and support as Comic Relief. If you are going to undertake such a challenge, do it for something obscure, something that needs the money more. Comic Relief would have made millions anyway, regardless of this climb. So why not give the money to another charity which is working at achieving something slightly different in Africa?

Perhaps there is a reason I sound slightly bitter about this. It is because I am. I feel that the escapades of “celebrities” in the name of charity has failed to truly understand the challenge of the mountain. They are almost trivialising the challenge simply by their collective presence. Kili is something that is going to stick forever with me. My own achievements in climbing it, along with the collection of emotions that went with it are something I will never forget. My own, deeply personal thoughts as I sat at the top of Kilimanjaro will forever haunt me. The mountain is more than the “celebrities” on it. This is not appreciated by enough people.

Editors Note: As if to further prove my point, I read this on the BBC. The title alone highlights my problem.




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