Stanley Peak
Stanley Peak

Last year, Cheryl Howard summited Mount Elbrus – the highest mountain in Russia – to raise funds and awareness for STEPS.

Impressive? We certainly thought so!

What’s more impressive is that she’s off to do it again – but this time in Africa, on the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of the Moon”, are believed to be the ones described by second century AD Geographer, Ptolemy, to be the source of the Nile.

The range is approximately 100km long and 50km wide, the highest point being Margherita Peak (the one Cheryl plans to summit), which stands at 5 111 metres.

Her trek starts on 6 June from Nyakelengija-Ibanda, following the Mubuku River, through forest areas where she will stay overnight at Nyabitaba Hut at an elevation of 2 650 metres.

Over the next five days, Cheryl and her team will climb steadily through areas with wonderful names like Nyamileju Hut, “Place of Beards”, Bujuku River, Groundsel Gulley, before facing Margherita Peak.

The climb toward the summit on this final day up will take approximately five to seven hours, depending on the weather conditions and the pace of the group. This challenging walk will take them over three glaciers, slippery rock, ice and some exposed areas.

“I have been told it’s a climb not for the faint hearted!” says Cheryl.

It will take them three days to descend back down to Nyabitaba, which entail more climbing, crossing icy rivers, having exquisite views of the Congo and Mount Stanley and ending with a well-deserved celebratory dinner with the team!

Cheryl on the summit of Mount Elbrus last year
Cheryl on the summit of Mount Elbrus last year

We asked Cheryl a few questions about the climb.

What made you decide to undertake a second climb for STEPS?

Climbing takes me out of my comfort zone and provides me with a new and fresh perspective on life.

The idea is to climb one beautiful mountain year – it’s food for the soul.

It was through my friendship with Karen and seeing Alex benefit from the programme that I became involved with STEPS. More recently a past employee’s little boy has been assisted via the programme and when watching a video of him walk it re-affirmed STEPS and the immense value it brings to those that it supports.

STEPS is a great initiative and if, by climbing, I can help increase awareness and raise funds for he work they do, all the better.

What are you most looking forward to about this journey?

Meeting a new team of like-minded folk, exploring a small piece of Uganda and testing myself against the mountain.

How can people get involved to support and raise money:

You can donate via GivenGain and help create awareness by sharing this post on your social media channels. 

What message would you like people to take away from the climb?

Step out of your comfort zone, test yourself and you will be surprised at what you are capable of.

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