Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Plea to Kenny over Kilimanjaro trek

Ian McKeever and Samuel Kinsonga hope to become the fastest men to scale Africa's highest mountain
Ian McKeever and Samuel Kinsonga hope to become the fastest men to scale Africa's highest mountain

An Irish climber is appealing to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to directly intervene after authorities thwarted his attempt to become the fastest man to scale Africa's highest mountain.

Ian McKeever was expecting to set off on his record-breaking attempt up the 5,895m-high Mount Kilimanjaro on Monday morning after several days of intense preparations.

But his hopes were dashed when he was prevented from returning to his set-off point - at the foot of the so-called Rongai route - after a practice run to the summit camp on Saturday.

Mr McKeever said he was told by officials on his way back down on Sunday that he could only climb that route and was not allowed to descend it under the rules of the national park.

"They were insisting that we descend another route - the Morangu - which is three hours away from the Rongai by car, and then we would need another permit to get back on to the Rongai again," he said.

"There's a lot of bureaucracy. I am going to ask Enda Kenny if he can help us get around the red tape here and see if we can get permission to go up and down the same route."

The mountaineer said Mr Kenny, who himself scaled Kilimanjaro in 2003 for charity, has taken an interest in his school expeditions from Ireland to the Tanzanian peak which started this summer.

The latest group of teenagers he will help to the top of the mountain in the coming days are from Davitt College, in the Taoiseach's hometown of Castlebar, Co Mayo.

Mr McKeever, 41, from Lough Dan in Co Wicklow, said he is hopeful Mr Kenny can help persuade the Tanzanian authorities to allow him to attempt the fastest ascent challenge later this month.

Along with his African climbing guide friend Samuel Kinsonga, Mr McKeever is hoping to break the current record of five hours 38 minutes set by Italian speed climber Bruno Brunod in 2001. The effort is part of their anti-racism Black And White Makes Sense campaign.

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