Not many people celebrate reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro by doing the splits, but this October, Lance Smith did exactly that after 6 days trekking the Lemosho Route with Action Challenge.
An unusal way to celebrate a summit
Lance was climbing in memory of his brother in law, Rob, who sadly passed away earlier in the year. Lance says “He was everything to me and I was extremely close to him. He died at 60 but was diagnosed with dementia at 48”.
Lance, pictured with brother in law Rob
What makes Lance’s climb even more remarkable is he is an amputee, and completed the climb with a prosthetic leg. In 2004, Lance was involved in an accident with a 10-ton digger on a building site where he was working. It was a tough time, and he nearly died.
In 2006 and 2008, Lance’s sons were born, something he says “literally saved my life as all the negative focus turned to positive”. He says he climbed Kili for his sons “to teach them not to be afraid, and they can do anything they want in life – to grab it!”
Lance with his sons
How did he find climbing Kilimanjaro? “I fell many, many times on Kili, and got battered and bruised... Even taking the skin off the bottom of my stump. I didn't think I could make certain climbs but I did it. I dug deep and did it, with help from Action Challenge’s Mountain Leader, Oliver, plus the medic and team of guides and porters.... I will never forget all of them.”
Tackling the 257m high Barranco Wall, watched by Action Challenge crew
Mountain weather can be unpredictable, and Lance gets extra bragging rights as they faced some interesting conditions: “We were hit with some of the worst weather you could have on the mountain.... Rain and freezing conditions. Wet clothes!”
A cold, snowy and happy summit!
Has this put Lance off doing more challenges? Nope! “I'm still buzzing. I am going to raise more money for more charities... And do many more challenges. I'm even considering rowing the Atlantic in 2 or 3 yrs from now with a partner.”
Before that, and much closer to home, Lance recently caught up with our mountain Leader, Oliver, for a well-deserved pint in his local! "Oliver, the team leader from action challenge, plus James our medic and Head Guide Saulyain who took us up and was in charge of all the porters.... if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have done so well. They are true inspirational themselves and have become my kili family friends."
Oli, a seasoned Mountain LEader, had this to say: "Lance was an awesome team member and the whole group coalesced around him. He never complained or got down at any point and he had perserverance in spades! I’m still not sure how he got through the snow but I think he would likely have dragged himself to the summit by his tongue if he’d had to! Every group needs a guy like Lance!"
Enjoying a pint with Action Challenge Mountain Leader, Oliver
If you feel inspired by Lance’s story, why take a look at our dates for 2020 and 2021 and start you own adventure.
If you’d like to donate to Lance’s fundraising efforts, you can do so via his Justgiving link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lance-smith