12th Nov 2015

Conquering Kilimanjaro


Picture 5

Between 13 and 18 December Hannes Doman and Rieghard Vermaak will be climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds for BA. We asked them what started this ambitious idea.

Tell us a bit about yourselves:

We both grew up in small towns where life was, well, not so fast paced and relationships meant more that possessions. A few years ago an interesting encounter led to the start of our friendship. The first dinner comes to mind where we realised that we share the same educational background from the same University, the same year with similar interests and that a cup of coffee will never be enough for a night’s social.

Between the two of us we share 3 x degrees (one a doctorate in Engineering), 2 x Cape Epic finishes, 2 x Comrades finishes, 1 x 36one finish, 25 countries we visited and both a 5km Colour Run that we quit before we even went over the starting line. Almost a Pinky and the Brain situation. On a more serious note, we both have the same eternal vision: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Jos. 24:15.

How did you come up with this idea/ how did you get involved:

We both like travel and adventure, but it was Hannes who first had the idea to climb Kilimanjaro (as a start to his dream of eventually doing the “Seven Summits”). So one evening, over a curry, he convinced me (and my wife!) that I should embark on this adventure with him. We then decided to also use the opportunity to raise funds for a worthy cause and so hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. Candace, my wife, is one of the founders and directors of Bridging Abilities, so this was the obvious place for us to start.

Why Kilimanjaro?:hannes-2

Growing up in Africa and hearing about people climbing Kili, it stuck in the back of our minds, wondering whether we can do it and how it feels to stand on the tallest mountain in Africa, gazing down on the glorious creation and place we call home.

When are you planning to climb:

We are planning to climb from 13 to 18 December this year. Weather wise this is not the best time, but it was the only time we both could take leave.

Tell us a bit about Kilimanjaro/the climb:

As you might know, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, with its highest point (Uhuru Peak) being 5895m above sea level. It is not as high as Everest, but as Kili is an isolated mountain (in fact, it’s a dormant volcano) and not part of an extended mountain range, it can also boast with the title of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.  It has 6 official routes going to the top, with one of the less traversed and more scenic routes being the Rongai route. It is also the only one starting from the Northern side of the mountain. We opted for this route to experience the stillness and splendour of the mountain.

What do you need to make the climb a success:

The major obstacle to reaching the summit is the high altitude. For every 1000m of altitude gained, the air pressure reduces by about 10 %. This means that close to the summit of Kili, the air pressure is only about 50 % of what it is at sea level. So you could say that up there you need double the effort to get the same amount of oxygen into your bloodstream! Most people experience varying levels of acute mountain sickness (AMS), or simply “altitude sickness”, with symptoms such as headaches and nausea. This is caused as the body struggles to adapt to the reduce levels of oxygen. This can also go over into the more severe and potentially fatal conditions of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and / or Cerebral Edema. The more time the body is given to adapt to changes in altitude and with sufficient hydration, the less severe the symptoms will be. So walking slowly and drinking lots of water is the best medicine to fight AMS. There is also medication that can help the body acclimatize, so we trust that we’ll be fine. Although a good level of general fitness will also help with the climb, your fitness is not directly related to your susceptibility to AMS. Then of course there is the temperature, which can drop to almost -30°C at the summit, but that’s nothing some warm clothes can fix.

How much do you want to raise:

R 5 million, but okay, we thought we’d start with something more realistic. BA said that R 25 000 would go a long way towards helping their community activity groups for adults with disabilities. So we though to ourselves, if they can do all this with R 25k, how much more would they be DSCN1570 (Copy)able to do with double that amount. So our aim is to raise R 50 000 with this campaign.

What will the funds be used for:

As said we hope to raise R50,000. The first R25,000 will go to their Community Activity Groups for Adults (refer to their website for more info on their projects), the next R10,000 will go towards the Sports and Recreation Events. The remaining amount will be used for things like training of volunteers, transport, further wheelchair equipment, event fees for events our group members want to enter and so forth.

How can I, the reader, get involved:

You can share Bridging Abilities’ vision and get involved with uplifting the lives of the people around you who wasn’t given the same abilities and opportunities. Like their Facebook page and visit their website for more information on how you can help or become involved. If you cannot donate your time, you can donate money to our campaign via GivenGain at:

To follow this journey you can follow Bridging Abilties’ Facebook and Twitter accounts or read more updates on the blog on our webiste :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *