Reaching the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro was quite literally a breathtaking experience for Andrew Tripp and his son Josh.
The duo from Gore returned from Africa last month where they visited Judith Lamaro, an 8-year-old Ugandan they were sponsoring through World Vision, before embarking on a seven-day climb of the 5895m mountain.
It was the final challenge in their Givealittle fundraiser called Climb a Mountain for Orphans Aid International and World Vision.
‘‘It started at about 2300m in altitude and slowly got higher and higher,’’ Mr Tripp said.
‘‘Once we got over 3600m the desire to go fast and get ahead of everyone quickly dissipated.
‘‘If you tried to exert yourself you were quickly out of breath.
‘‘The distance wasn’t difficult but the lack of oxygen was the main thing.
‘‘Makes you appreciate oxygen — you take it for granted.’’
It was not too cold when the sun was out, but at night the temperature dropped well into the negatives, he said.
‘‘I had a water bottle on my pack and it froze on the way up. But we’re from Southland so we’re used to those sort of temperatures.’’
However, of about 50 others that were climbing with them, some could not make it and had to turn back.
They did not sleep much the night before they reached the summit, wanting to get an early start as the sun rose while the sky was clear, Mr Tripp said.
‘‘[Josh] reckoned he was almost falling asleep as he was walking along.’’
The early start was well worth it though, as it gave them beautiful clear views from the summit.
‘‘All credit to our guides — we had two guides, a cook and a waiter and seven porters.’’
From popcorn to spaghetti to ginger tea, they were well fed during the climb, he said.
‘‘It was a pretty awesome experience.’’