TWO Armidale women have completed a climb of one of the world’s highest mountains – and raised nearly $30,000 for Guide Dogs NSW along the way.
Deb Warren is completely blind but she didn’t let that stop her from climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, South Africa, with Guide Dogs orientation and mobility instructor Jenny Croaker.
Together, they’ve raised more than $27,000 of their $30,000 target to enable more puppies to be trained as guide dogs.
Ms Warren recently arrived back in Australia and described her trip as an amazing experience.
“I didn’t really have huge expectations,” she said.
“But I enjoyed it far more than I imagined.”
Her seeing-eye dog, Meg, remained at home with her mum.
Ms Warren had never even camped before, or had never done much flying, only some short international flights as a child.
She said Tanzania was very relaxed and the people were incredibly generous and kind.
“When the sun was out, you could certainly feel its intensity far more than we do here,” Ms Warren said.
Of the climb itself, she said she loved it.
“People said it would be an amazing experience – I couldn’t imagine how sweating, slogging, panting and tripping up the mountain fighting altitude sickness and sleep disturbance could possibly be great.
“But they were certainly right.”
She said it was incredibly windy and cold at the summit but the altitude hadn’t really affected her.
“I was concerned it might prevent me reaching the summit from the stories of what could happen,” Ms Warren said.
“I was quite lucky with altitude, only really experiencing some headaches and nausea, and some sleep disturbance.”
The trust she had to instil in her guide was a challenge at times and she remembers when her instincts told her to hand over her trekking poles and use her hands and feet to scale rocky terrain.
“Each time I suggested this possibility I was met with a very forceful ‘no’ and the poles were pushed back into my hands,” Ms Warren said.
“To trust someone so completely with your safety isn’t something we experience very often.”
She said she would urge anyone – vision impaired or not – to give the climb a go.
“It’s certainly not easy, but very possible with the right support and team behind you,” Ms Warren said.