Friday, October 5th, 2018 our team of 6 guides, 33 porters, one medical doctor, one camp manager and one cook managed what seemed impossible, taking to the top of the highest mountain in Africa, Ms Corrien Hutton, a mum from Scotland who had all her hands and legs amputated in 2013 following a sespsis infection.
She is believed to be the first female quadruple amputee to climb and summit mount Kilimanjaro, being at 48 years of age.
Ms Corrien Hutton was accompanied by 10 more climbers from her group.
The plan for the first female quadruple amputee to climb Kilimanjaro
When we first received an email from Lee Peyton, Director of Breaking Strain Events regarding a charity expedition up Kilimanjaro with one of the trekkers being a Quadruple amputee we didn't know what exactly that means or whether it was possible to get her on top of Kilimanjaro.
The question” Which wheelchair will we use floated around?” even though we have experience in leading Kilimanjaro people with physical disabilities before.
The expedition was planned for over a year, having been received on May 9 2017. We had to carefully select the most favorable route by assessing comfort, technicality, risk and successful level among the six routes.
But when it came to selecting our legendary guides, we were confident Julius Mtongore (Whitey) was up to challenge having sumitted Kilimanjaro over 250 times with an average 92% success rate.
The Experience of leading the first female quadruple amputee to the top of Kilimanjaro:
Here are some Q&As we had with Whitey, the head of the crew that took the first female quadruple amputee to the top of Africa.
What did you feel taking someone like her up Kili?
I was looking forward to the trek because it was a new experience and a new challenge for me. I even learned how to change prosthetic legs which is a new skill.
How was your day to day experience?
Everyone was amazed to see her on the trail. Some people wanted to take photos with her.
Did you doubt she was not going to make it?
No, From the beginning I could see her character she was strong and determined. What she needed was an encouragement and extra monitoring of her walking.
Any special moment you would like to share with us?
We had alot of moments! Here are some,
The briefing before the summit was so emotional after dinner around 5:30 to 6 pm. She is a mum and she believed even with no hands or legs she can still make it to the top.
On day two, it crossed my mind to lend her my legs and arms so she could be more comfortable because she was charming, kind and friendly.
I witnessed a movement of hope and perseverance, where so many people from both our group and other groups pushed themselves beyond their limit as a result of seeing her continuing to push trying to get to the top.
Any challenges along the way?
Apart from the physical demands of the trek, she had one lung and I could not check her oxygen levels from the oximeter because she had no fingers. I resumed to old methods and checked the pulse rate through the wrist and listening to how she was breathing, looking for any signs of altitude sickness i.e lips, eyes.
How was Summit Night?
We began the ascent to Uhuru peak from Kibo base camp at 4 am. I chose this because we would have less exposure to cold weather at low altitude than if we started at midnight.
I had one guide in the front of Corrien and I was at the back. I found this to be more effective to see her and monitor her breathing and steps along the way.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, I want to say Disability is not Inability.
A huge congratulation to Whitey and his team!! Maximum respect, thank for being a true leader.