Leeds charity climbers’ terror near summit of Kilimanjaro

BLIZZARD ORDEAL: The group on Kilimanjaro.
BLIZZARD ORDEAL: The group on Kilimanjaro.
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A CHARITY fundraiser has spoken of his terror as he climbed one of the world’s highest mountains, but was forced to turn back near the peak because of a deadly blizzard.

Fahad Khan, 24, was with fellow North Leeds pals Asim Tahir and Adil Hussain, as well as other Yorkshire trekkers, when they got agonisingly close to the 5,900m-high summit of Kilimanjaro. They were forced to turn back just 395 metres from the top when hazardous snowfall struck, with temperatures dropping to minus 15. It later emerged three other climbers from a different party died on the same night.

Despite his and his friends’ breathtaking experience, Fahad has vowed to try again. His group still managed to raise £110,000 for a water aid charity.

Community worker Fahad, 24, said: “It was a life or death situation and the scariest of my life. But it was still an amazing, unbelievable experience and I will go again.

“The night before we attempted to conquer the summit was unbelievable. The oxygen level was very low and some of our team felt very ill. We had camped at 4,600 metres and started our 1,300-metre trek to the summit at midnight. It started snowing and then it was a full blizzard. The temperature dropped to minus 15 and it was so cold that my coat and hood were frozen solid.”

The team carried on “at a snail’s pace” but then, at 4am, and less than 400 metres from their destination, the team leader decided to turn back.

“We were only 395 metres from the top, but it was the right decision,” Fahad said. “We found out when we got back that three other climbers had died that night. It was the scariest moment of my life. There were lots of loose rocks (as we descended) and you could put a foot in one of them at any point and fall.”

Fahad and his friends attempted the gruelling climb in aid of the Islamic Relief charity’s Water for Life project, which helps drought victims in Kenya.