After numerous pandemic-related false starts, armfuls of vaccinations and many hours of training (although almost certainly not enough) What Car?, Autocar, Classic & Sports Car and Car Accessory Trader (CAT) diminutive managing director Rachael Prasher and elongated editorial director Jim Holder will attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania this month, fund-raising for automotive charity Ben.
During the 62km (38.525 miles, not that we’re counting every single step) trek up to the top of the highest free-standing mountain on earth, the duo will face challenges including freezing temperatures, high altitude, brutal ascents and severe weather, which will almost certainly result in a slew of emotional social media posts exposing their physical and fashion shortcomings. The altitude at the summit of the (hopefully) dormant volcano is 5895 metres.
Prasher and Holder are part of a wider group of automotive industry heads raising money for Ben. The automotive charity provides mental health and physical health support for individuals and businesses within the industry. It estimates mental health is one of the biggest issues affecting the sector, and can cost the industry as much as £1.2 billion a year through absences, lack of productivity and staff turnover.
“Barring any more curveballs it’s pretty clear time is running out for another drama to save me. This time it’s really happening,” says Rachael Prasher, managing director of Haymarket Automotive. “The bonus is we’re now able to climb in the rainy season, which is the best time to climb if you don’t want to meet anyone else on the mountain and the worst if you want to walk in relative, dry, comfort. I have purchased enough Goretex products to open a small branch of Go Outdoors.”
Holder added: “There are few people on the planet more committed to getting in line early when Millets holds a sale, but now it is time to face the yang to the ying of having a very good excuse to buy an entirely new wardrobe over the past months. So long as I can jam enough ruggedly-named all-weather socks and merino underwear into my 45-litre all-weather Extreme Summit rucksack, Kilimanjaro awaits.
“Last year we did the Three Peaks as a warm-up to this adventure. I walked up three mountains and down two, tackling the last descent like a lame pony, with a knee injury that took many months to heal. The prospect of walking almost 40 miles in arduous conditions is therefore extremely daunting. I very much hope that the pity it inspires will persuade people to sponsor me and help raise funds for the people most in need, those supported by Ben.”
The pair will be joined on the challenge by James Tordoff and Andy Bateman (JCT600), Adrian Wallington and Clive McGregor (Marshall Motor Group), Leon Bosch (Partners &) and Joel Combes (Lawgistics), Neil Grant and Spencer Grinham (Hella), Andy Hamilton and Anthony McAteer (Euro Car Parts) and Zara Ross, Rachel Clift and Matt Wigginton (Ben). The expedition will be led by Jason Rawles of Aspire Adventures.
The pair set off on November 21st, returning, all being well, on November 29th.