Chefs with Altitude: Kilimanjaro climbers return with a story to tell

Chefs Ashley Palmer-Watts, Paul Foster and John Freeman and Bar Boulud maitre d' Paulo de Tarso have so far raised £47,337

The team of chefs and restaurateurs that made it all the way to the summit of Kilimanjaro in aid of Farm Africa have described the climb as ‘extremely hard’ and ‘incredibly emotional’.

Now safely back down the 5.8km-high mountain, chefs Ashley Palmer-Watts, Paul Foster and John Freeman and Bar Boulud maitre d' Paulo de Tarso have raised £47,337 out of the £50,000 they are hoping to reach.

And there is still time to pledge money. The climb was part of Farm Africa’s on-going Food for Good initiative, which brings together the food and hospitality industries in a bid to solve the world’s hunger crisis. To help the team reach their £50,000 target, make a donation here.

It comes almost a year after Palmer-Watts paid his first visit to Kisumu in Kenyato visit Farm Africa's projects there. The chef said he was inspired to do the fundraising climb following that visit to Africa and he quickly set about motivating others to join him on his quest to raise more cash for Farm Africa's project.

After a gruelling eight days which saw them battle altitude sickness and the physical challenge of the climb, the group returned safely down the mountain late last week, and they were keen to share their experiences. 

Paul Foster: "That was the toughest thing that I've ever done. My body completely gave up on me. I could barely put one foot in front of the other but my head was the only thing keeping me going.

“I was determined to make it to the top. When I actually made it I'd never been so emotional; a sense of relief, pride and pain all at once. I was just so drained, all my feelings blurred into one emotion."

Ashley Palmer-Watts: "I thought day five was going to be the hardest day for me, climbing 'The Wall' - a steep rocky cliff - with my fear of heights. Feeling tired and with not much sleep we set off at midnight towards the summit.

“The journey to the top was mentally and physically more demanding than anything I've ever done before. And at a few points I didn't think I was going to make it. But when we reached Stella point after six-and-a-half hours with one more hour to go, I knew I was going to.

“With the massive crater on the right and the glacier on the left, the beautiful sunrise coming up really spurred me on to get to Uhuru peak. It was incredibly emotional seeing the whole team at the top and I'm very proud the whole team pulled together and made it.”

Paulo de Tarso: "It was extremely hard. Climbing at midnight in freezing conditions - you go up step by step which is slow but incredibly difficult. When we were summiting we saw a few people who were obviously very ill being rushed down. That was mentally tough. I looked at my watch after only climbing for three hours and it was agony knowing I had another three-and-a-half hours to go.

“As the sun started to rise our porters started singing to encourage us on and I started crying. I was so emotional. At Stella point I became very confident I could make it. I was thinking of my wife and kids constantly and knew I had to make it to Uhuru for them and myself. When I got to the summit I was extremely emotional thinking about what we had achieved."

You can also read more about their trip in this Farm Africa Chef Altitude Blog.

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Comments (1)

Heinz Brunner - 03 Sep 2013 | 07:51

Well Done Guys

We must have been there at the same time , we summited on the 16th August 6 am , and raised money for the WOrld Chefs Tour Against Hunger. Send me your details and I will send you some of our pics . REMEMBER COOKING UNITES

03-Sep-2013 at 19:51 GMT

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