Four sisters have reached remarkable heights after travelling to a world-famous natural landmark to support a worthy charitable cause.
Leven golfing administraor Jen Low and her three siblings set out to conquer Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, in support of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Scotland.
The ladies joined around 25 other climbers for a 10-day trip which took in six days of back-to-back hiking, including 14-16 hours of trekking on the summit day.
During that time, the group endured sub-zero temperatures and extremely thin air, as well as the camp site’s infamous long drop toilets.
At 5985 metres – over four times the height of Ben Nevis – Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and also the world’s highest free-standing peak.
The group collectively raised £168,800 for MND Scotland – with Jen, secretary-treasurer of the Leven Links Joint Committee – and sisters Steph Nicol, Liz Mackay and Kath Murray – contributing around £23,000.
The ladies decided they wanted to help the charity after the death in 2012 from motor neurone disease of their Aunt Ellie, who was just 63.
They were further inspired by their cousin Beccy, who cycled 2500 miles in 30 days in 2013 around the country on behalf of MND Scotland and the MND Association.
Jen said it was a hard challenge – “far tougher than I imagined, both mentally and physically.”
But she added: “I’m absolutely blown away by the whole experience. The amount raised really has made it all worthwhile.”
Jen – who still has an active Just Giving page for anyone who wishes to donate – said the first four days of trekking were “pretty hard going and steep” but nothing compared to summit night.
“We set off at midnight and trekked up the very steep and scary slope with just the light from our head torches,” she added. It was minus 10 – bitterly cold!
“Steph and I reached Gillman’s Point at sunrise – the most beautiful sight and some welcome warmth.
“It took another two hours to reach the summit. By then, the altitude was definitely affecting us. Breathing was difficult and it was slow going.”
The altitude thwarted Kath and Liz’s attempts to ascend to the summit, but they made a valiant effort.
The majority of the group had been affected personally in some way by MND, so a deep bond was formed.
Jen added: “The MND team was amazing and everyone supported and helped each other to stay positive and keep moving.”
Iain McWhirter, head of fundraising and volunteering at MND Scotland, said the support was “overwhelming” and greatly exceeded the charity’s expectations when it first decided to tackle Kilimanjaro.