Orangemen preparing for final push on Kilimanjaro charity hike which has raised more than £250,000

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A group of Orangemen from Northern Ireland on a charity hike were on course to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro early this morning.

In an update on Monday from Tanzania they planned to be leaving their camp at around 11pm tonight and hoped to be at the summit around seven hours from then following a hike in the dark with temperatures dropping as low as minus 22.

The team of 24, led by Banbridge Orangeman Stuart Magill and supported by 76 Tanzanians in the roles of chefs, doctors, guides and porters, have raised an outstanding quarter of a million pounds for four children’s cancer charities.

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On Monday, which was day four of the hike, they took on the Baranco Wall – a 300m steep cliff made out of volcanic rock.

Some of the Hiking For Little Heroes group cheering on Rangers in their Old Firm clash from Mount KilimanjaroSome of the Hiking For Little Heroes group cheering on Rangers in their Old Firm clash from Mount Kilimanjaro
Some of the Hiking For Little Heroes group cheering on Rangers in their Old Firm clash from Mount Kilimanjaro

Leader Stuart said: “Looking from camp it looks impossible to climb but from the day we booked our trip this was the day we were looking forward to the most.

"During our training up the Mournes we loved climbing the Devil’s Coach Road but this was the Devil’s Coach Road on steroids. The walking poles were in the day sack as you needed to use your hands the whole way up.

“It took two hours to climb the wall and once you got to the top we had the most amazing views of Kibo Peak – the top of Kilimanjaro. The photos from there are mind blowing but don't give it the justice it deserves.”

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Before they set off on Monday morning they were reminded of just how tough a task they were trying to complete.

At one of the camps along the way upAt one of the camps along the way up
At one of the camps along the way up

Stuart said: “We were getting ready to start walking when we heard a helicopter coming into camp to airlift someone off. This was a wake up call to the reality of climbing Kilimanjaro and the dangers of high altitude.”

The group celebrated New Year’s Eve on Kilimanjaro at a camp which was described as “a bit rowdy”.

Stuart said: “The camps over here are massive, there are many groups here climbing Kilimanjaro and there are well over 100 tents at each camp. Our group is easily the biggest with the average group being just half a dozen.”

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On Monday afternoon members of the hiking party who have season tickets at Ibrox donned their kits to cheer on Rangers from Tanzania. And they nearly got a welcome boost from Glasgow, but unfortunately their team conceded a late goal to draw the game against rivals Celtic.

Hiking on day fourHiking on day four
Hiking on day four

Over half the group had been suffering from altitude sickness but Stuart said that thankfully it is pretty much all gone apart from a few mild symptoms and yesterday he said they were focused for the final push.

He said: “The morale of the group is still as high as it was from day one, this is one of the biggest reasons for the success of our trip thus far. Confidence is high but no one is underestimating the scale of the challenge that awaits us.”

The Hiking For Little Heroes challenge had been delayed from last year due to Covid, which allowed the group more time to raise more than £250,000 for four charities – Children Cancer Unit at Royal Victoria Hospital, Angel Wishes, Cancer Fund For Children and B Positive.

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