Date Published: 29 January 2009
Fundraiser tackles seven summits challenge for UNICEF
Fundraiser Ania Lichota is now just one peak away from completing her epic mission to climb the highest mountain on every continent. Having scaled Antarctica's Mt. Vinson in December, only Everest now stands between Ania and her goal.
Ania first heard about the seven summits in 2002 when a guide suggested that the group she and her ex-husband were climbing with should try to complete the challenge together. The original group disbanded, but Ania resolved to complete the challenge on her own, raising money for UNICEF and orphanages in her native Poland in the process. She chose to support UNICEF because she believes that, given the right opportunities, anyone can perform and make their dream come true.
Six summits down
Since the beginning of the challenge in January 2006, Ania has climbed: Mt Elbrus in the Caucasus, generally regarded as Europe's highest summit; Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa; Mt McKinley (also known as Denali) in Alaska; Aconcagua in the Andes; and Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, Australasia's highest mountain.
Every mountain is different, and you have to train in a particular way for each,”says Ania. Carstensz was a pure rock climb so I had to have tuition for that, and a lot of upper body strength [whereas] for Denali in North America, it was all about having to carry a heavy load.”She trained for this particular challenge by carrying a 30kg backpack to and from work in London.
Denali was the toughest to climb. Ania describes as very long, very cold, very demanding physically and mentally.”It was also a lonely ascent, with the climbers 25 metres apart on the rope throughout the day. It was only at the camp in the evening that members of the group could discuss their experiences.
Waiting in a Chilean city for ten days over Christmas 2008 on a six-hour stand by for a flight to Antarctica was both frustrating and mentally challenging. We got to know every restaurant, every shop, every corner every penguin,”comments Ania.
Unable to choose which mountain has been her favourite climb so far, Ania says that the best thing about the challenge has been going out with other members of each expedition afterwards to share their memories of the climb.
and one to go.
The last stage of Ania's challenge will be her attempt on Everest in spring 2010. Describing it as a logistical challenge, as well as a physical and mental one, Ania says it will take seven months to plan, with everything from buying equipment and hiring guides to take care of, in addition to the extra training required.
Aside from very careful planning, her advice for anyone thinking about completing a similar challenge is to tell everybody [as] you never know where help will come from.”Ania has been pleasantly surprised by how generous sponsors have been and how supportive her employer was when she got held up on her last expedition. Ania's fundraising total now stands at almost $20,000. It is, she says, her sponsors' generosity and messages of support that have given her a mental boost whenever times got tough.