Jamaican trio meet Mt. Kilimanjaro challenge

LONDON – Last year, while leading a group from his cricket team to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, Garry Sutherland promised his guide that he would bring more Jamaicans to Tanzania to experience the challenge.

He kept his promise, on September 24, accompanied by two Jamaican friends from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – Sharon Gordon, whose parents are from the parishes of Clarendon and Trelawny, and O’Neil Allen, who was born in St. Thomas.

“Five members (of the cricket team) accepted the challenge (last year) to go to the summit of Kilimanjaro and when I was there, I noticed that the porters kept looking at me and talking among themselves. The lead guy came up to me and asked where I was from? I said that I was English, but that my father was from Jamaica,” Mr. Sutherland explained.

“They were excited, and said they did not get many Jamaicans there, so I promised him that I would try to get more Jamaicans to visit, and that was what this year’s expedition was about,” he told JIS news.

Mr. Sutherland, whose father hails from St. James, is an experienced climber and made it to the summit of one of Europe’s highest mountains, Mount Blanc, when he was only 17 years old. For his colleagues, however it was their first experience, but they are pleased and proud that they were able to meet the challenge successfully.

“I can’t believe that I made it. The experience, the scenery, the people you meet, helping each other through the sickness and the altitude: It was a wonderful experience and I have a real sense of achievement,” Miss Gordon said.

“I was proud of all of us making it to the summit, when so many other groups had to stop. I did not really appreciate it, until we were back down. I was too tired, in too much pain and too drained at time. I am very glad that I have done it,” Mr. Allen said.

All three are encouraging more Jamaicans to take up the “Kilimanjaro challenge”. However, while Ms. Gordon and Mr. Allen are not keen to climb Kilimanjaro again, they are both open to new challenges.

Mr. Sutherland says his next challenge is to revisit his first mountain, Mount Blanc, and he is also seriously considering a mount challenge in South America, where he plans to climb Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of Asia.

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