long-held dream of desire and hope
French lady breaks climbing record in a wheelchair at Mt. Kilimanjaro
TANZANIA (eTN) - For two years, a French lady with a disability lived with a faint hope that one day she would be able to ascend the world’s highest freestanding mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro.
A 33-year-old, both of Chrystel Alquier’s legs were paralyzed eleven years ago. Since then she has played the climbing in her mind, visualizing the excitement, capturing that moment only in the lenses deeply hidden in her heart.
But now, her dream has become a reality. Miss Alquier set an incredible record for being the second female with a disability to ascend to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania by using a wheelchair.
Authorities say that the lady spent only four days to make it to Uhuru Peak, which is 5,895 meters above sea level.
As a result, the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) Chief Park Warden, Mr. Erastus Lufungulo, awarded Miss Alquier with a special certificate of recognition for breaking such a rare record.
“This is to certify that Miss Chrystel Alquier has successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, to Uhuru Peak, 5,895 meters above sea level,” reads the certificate (No. 265014) issued on February 3, 2013.
Miss Alquier, who embarked on her tedious journey on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 via Marangu route, successfully managed to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, popularly known as the roof of Africa, on February 2, 2013.
The qualified local guides, namely Victor Manyanga and Godfrey Mgana from Congema Tours and Safaris Ltd., led her to the summit to the wonderment of many.
Traditionally, it takes a normal climber 6 days to reach the top of the highest mountain on the Africa continent through the Marangu; and 7 days via the toughest route, Machame; and one has to sleep in huts set up along the route to acclimatize.
“It is an incredible experience, I am very happy that I have made it, thanks to the incredible congema team,” Miss Alquier told a press conference as she wiped her tears of joy.
She added: “I’ve so many things to say, but today it is suffice to say that everything is possible in life. I am here to prove this to the world.”
Miss Alquier encouraged people with disabilities across the global to believe that they are able to achieve anything they wish in life despite their status.
Congema Tours and Safaris Ltd. Managing Director, Mr. Costantine Ngelengi Malembela, said he was overwhelmed with joy for her to make it to the summit.
“It wasn’t a soft option for us to take up the challenge, but I’m very proud today. We worked hard, day and night, to make it successful… I am grateful to my team,” Mr. Malembela said.
He further said that the team was well equipped to serve her and the rest of the group, bearing in mind that it was in the interest of the country to show the tourists that Tanzanians can handle them beyond their expectations.
Congema Safaris, with its base in Tanzania’s northern safari capital city of Arusha, is a company with the capacity to organize safaris in the country and across the East Africa region.
Tour Guide Leader, Victor Manyanga, said the journey was tough, but through courage and experience, they made it.
“Honestly, it wasn’t easy at times; we thought that we couldn’t reach [it], but through her high spirit, at the end of the day, we moved on up to the top,” Mr. Manyanga explained.
He said that through all his 12 years of experience in guiding tourists on the mountain, he has never met a client with such courage.
In January 2010, 28-year-old Erica Davis of Carlsbad was the first woman to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro using a wheelchair.