Doha resident and animal welfare enthusiast, Carl Roberts recently tackled the highest mountain in Africa, climbing to the summit of Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the rebuilding effort at Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS).
Along with his equipment, Roberts also carried a copy of Gulf Times with him to the summit of the peak.
The climbers hold the QAWS banner on their way to the summit
Describing last year’s fire at QAWS as “devastating”, the outdoor enthusiast said that after being asked by an old school friend to climb Kilimanjaro, he immediately thought of using it as a vehicle to raise awareness and funds for the group.
And at 7.20 on Friday morning, he finally achieved his objective.
“It felt quite emotional to reach the summit actually,” he said.” So much hard work went into the preparation and I was quite ill a week before leaving. I also suffered quite badly with a splitting headache at altitude so it was a mixture between relief and elation when we finally reached the summit.”
As well as the team of travelling companions, guides and porters on the trip, Roberts was joined by QAWS mascot, Ted Bear who also made it to the summit.
Roberts explained that the most difficult part of the trip was the climb of 1,300m over loose scree from Barafu Hut to Stella Morning on the morning of reaching the summit.
“We started at midnight and it took about six hours at a slow but never-ending pace,” he said, adding “we passed a number of people being escorted off the mountain by their guides on the way up and it would have been easy to throw in the towel there”.
But Roberts carried on, and it was the thought of people back here that kept him going.
“I couldn’t bear the thought of letting everyone down - if it would have been for me I may well have turned around, but there were just far too many people behind me.”
“One of my friends sent me a message which simply said ‘Dont Stop’ – that kept ringing around my head,” he explained.
“Without a shadow of a doubt it was far harder than I imagined,” he said, explaining that only when he was actually on the mountain did the guides explain that the team had chosen the longest route to be completed in the shortest time (four days up and two days down).
“Although I trained hard it was still very, very tough!” he admitted.
Roberts described a number of highlights of the trip, including walking through the rainforest on the first and last days, meeting the guides and porters, and just “being in such an amazing place!”
He explained that walking far above the clouds in the high altitude, surrounded by the remnants of the volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago, was an incredible experience.
And of course, reaching the summit was a clear highlight.
“But so was heading back down again and the air getting more and more laden with oxygen with every step,” he added.
And the money he raised through his climb will go towards the costs of building the new shelter at the QAWS farm to keep the animals in air-conditioned surroundings in time for the summer months.
“I have been doing volunteer work with QAWS since arriving in Doha at the end of last year,” said Roberts, adding “I have seen firsthand what an amazing job they do on a shoestring and, quite frankly, they need all the help they can get.”
The adventure was sponsored by a number of companies in Qatar, including Vodafone, Qatar Pet Relocators and iloveqatar.net, who assisted Roberts with his communications throughout the attempt.
So far Roberts has raised about QR8,000 through pledges, but people can still donate to the cause by contacting QAWS through their website.
“This is a drop in the ocean when compared to the running costs of the shelter, so if any readers would like to make a further pledge please get in touch with QAWS,” added Roberts.
“We’re extremely grateful to the companies and individuals that have sponsored Carl and Ted,” said a representative of QAWS, adding “Carl is a great volunteer of ours and we’re thankful for this fund-raising opportunity.”
“With the summer months being the hardest for QAWS, we appreciate every effort in helping the animals and we hope there will be more adventures for Ted in the future so he can continue to spread the message of animal welfare.”
Khalifa Saleh Haroon, founder of iloveqatar.net said: “I was approached to sponsor Carl’s climb and I jumped at the opportunity. It makes for a great story and embodies what iloveqatar.net is all about.”
“A Qatari guy who runs a site to make Qatar a better place and show appreciation to the expatriate community, sponsors an expat to climb a mountain and wave a Qatari flag,” he said.
“As far as I know, only around 10% of people complete the climb, so it is an honour to have Qatar’s flag waving proudly,” he stated.
“I believe we all have a responsibility to take care of animals in Qatar, and a good way of doing this it to support organisations like QAWS, who desperately need our help,” added Haroon.
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