Kilimanjaro climb raises money for MS research

Photo: (From Left) Gary Vermeulen, Ron Vermeulen, Brian Vermeulen and Faith Jones arrived at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at about 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 18./ submitted

It was a personal accomplishment taking several days to complete and one that also raised tens of thousands of dollars for a worthy cause.

Fort St. John resident Brian Vermeulen, along with three others as part of his team, reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, while also raising more than $90,000 as part of the 2010 MS Climb for multiple sclerosis research.

The group adventure, which included Vermeulen’s younger brother, began at more than 2,000 metres. They had to climb nearly another 4,000 metres to get to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain, located in Tanzania.

Beginning in mid-October, it took the group four days to get to the base camp, Kibo, from where they set out on the final leg of the journey. The group left the camp just after midnight on Oct. 17 and it took them more seven hours to reach the summit, arriving at about 7:30 a.m.

Vermeulen says that one of the greatest sights he saw was when the group reached Gilman’s point, approximately 300 metres from the summit, when the sun just began to rise. He says after travelling for much of the morning in the pitch-dark, seeing the sun rise at that point was amazing.

However, the climb is not without its challenges and he says there were many people that they passed that never made it to the summit.

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Although the total length of the climb only took a few days, Vermeulen says he trained for six months before going over to Tanzania, to prepare for the climb and the reduced oxygen levels.

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Furthermore, Vermeulen says training at the higher altitude around Fort St. John better prepared him for the climb, than if he had trained closer to sea level.

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Vermeulen says he chose to climb partly for his brother’s 50th birthday and partly to raise money for MS research, as he and his brother have friends that have been affected by the debilitating disease.

Mount Kilimanjaro, with a peak height of 5,895 metres, is the highest mountain in Africa.

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