Mountain Men

Reporter: Graeme Butler

"We thought of it as symbolic for people who have illness, just making a difference when you're young, when you can and we can and hopefully people will follow us" Mount Kilimanjaro - Africa's highest peak and the first of seven summits Toby Gardner and Carl Coward will attempt to raise money for people with their own mountains to climb as they battle a variety of illness' - this time it's for breast cancer. "We chose breast cancer because it's something that affects everyone, everyone has a mother, a sister, a girlfriend and at some stage you're either going to know someone who suffers from breast cancer"

It's day one of the climb - months of preparation have led to this, a slow trek from umbwe camp at the base of the mountain, "we're walking very slowly so we don't get sick" As the pair continues to climb through the jungle - the real concern is altitude sickness - Kilimanjaro stands 5895 metres above sea level, "one night before camp I started to get very sick and it started hurting really badly and nester is getting a little bit concerned"

The other concern when attempting the climb is weather - it can change quickly, rainy conditions at the lower levels make climbing uncomfortable - the boys reach Barranco Camp - tired and wet, "it rained all day and was very very cold" While the spirits are high - already there's concerns about Carl's ability to continue much further,

"I'm a little bit embarrassed although I know there is nothing I can do" By morning Carl is confident he can tackle the next leg of the climb, Nester - their guide decides to continue to the next camp Karanga at 4000 metres. as the climb continues the jungle has made way for a barren rocky landscape - snow covers much of the ground making it slippery underfoot... day five sees the climb reach Barafu camp 4600 metres - it's not good news for Carl, "I've been told that I can't go on Nester our guide thinks I'm starting to get water on my lungs he thinks it's too dangerous for me to continue, I need to get down from here I need to get as far down the mountain as I can because I'm really really sick"

Toby continues to make his attempt at the summit - he leaves camp at 7am, it's cold and weather is closing in - "we're probably about 45 minutes from the summit it's amazing how fatigued it can make you feel I have a headache and everything like that and my knee has gone a long time ago it's the fatigue that's worse than the headache you lose focus on anything else" Eight hours after leaving camp the summit is in sight - it's new years day. Toby has left Carl but he carries with him their shared spirit, he also has momentoes from Perth - given to him by people touched by breast cancer - he's not alone. "You can't even describe not only the view but the sensation it's incredibly motivating it's incredibly uplifting and when you've done it you want to do more"

"When I saw him obviously relieved, relieved that he summited and some sense of completion I think I feel okay that I didn't make it but it's over we're done this I was very happy I was very proud of what Toby had done very impressed" Together Toby and Carl raised 100 thousand dollars for the breast cancer foundation - next year another charity will benefit as another mountain beckons - "next year we're looking for a handful of west Australians in their 20's and thirties who also want to make a difference that are young and want to put something back into society an we're looking to raise a quarter of a million dollars for the next climb" The next peak is expected to be Europe's tallest - the preparation begins now.

For further details:

http://www.thebigclimb.org