Martin Hibbert and his trusty Martin’s Mountain team have now begun their climb of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Kilimanjaro, to raise money for SIA. But how? And why? We’ve answered your burning questions below.
Who is Martin?
Martin Hibbert was the closest person to the 2017 Manchester arena terrorist bomb to survive. As a result of the bomb, 22 people lost their lives, 1,017 were injured and thousands of people were personally and deeply affected by this attack.
During the incident, Martin’s spine was severed by shrapnel, leaving him with a T10 complete spinal cord injury and fortunate to be alive. Despite this horrific trauma, Martin was determined to turn tragedy into something good.
What is Martin’s Mountain?
We have supported Martin since his injury and a few years ago, Martin decided that he wanted to give something back by taking on a massive challenge to try and raise £1 million for the charity. He asked what the hardest physical challenge that he could set himself was. The answer? Climb to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. And so, Martin’s Mountain was born.
In June 2022, Martin will be taking on Kilimanjaro along with a support team consisting of some of his closest friends, including a nurse and physio. The team have been training for months to take on this challenge. However, for Martin, this challenge is not about reaching the highest peak in Africa, it is a personal mission to raise awareness of the endless everyday mountains that those affected by SCI must face, from inaccessible infrastructure, to lack of sexual function, to pressure sores; and what more should be done to help address the challenges.
Where is Mt. Kilimanjaro?
Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania in East Africa. It is a stunning country with great lakes and colossal mountains. Swahili is Tanzania’s unofficial national language. The mountain itself peaks at over 19,000ft above sea level, and is made up of three distinct volcanoes: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira.
Whilst in Tanzania, the climb team hope to visit the Tanzanian Spinal Injuries Association to find out more about how life is different for those affected by SCI in East Africa. As part of the challenge, the team hope to leave a positive legacy behind in the country that is hosting them.
How will the team climb the mountain?
Climbing Kilimanjaro will ultimately be one of the toughest physical challenges ever taken on by someone affected by paralysis. The views will be stunning, but the physical strain on the bodies of every climb team member will be immense.
Whilst on the climb, Martin will be using a specially made trike, designed by Mountain Trike (pictured below). This trike uses levers to manoeuvre and has comfortable padding, as well a multitude of other modifications. Despite these adjustments, Martin’s body will be taking a battering on the hard and uneven mountainous terrain. His arms will also be burning as he uses his muscles to keep the trike’s wheels moving in the right direction by pumping the levers.
On the most inaccessible parts of the climb, the team will use ladders, push and pull the trike using elastic straps, and lift and move the trike in mid-air.
Martin and members of the team on a training camp in Snowdonia, Wales
However, the biggest challenges on the mountain for Martin will be maintaining a healthy bladder using a catheter, a functioning bowel and regulating skin temperature. These are some of the biggest obstacles that impact people with a SCI and being on the mountain without access to medical resources will make things far more difficult. Without proper care and consideration, Martin could easily suffer an infection, which would bring any climbing ambitions to a quick halt.
Finally, the altitude of the mountain will mean that towards the peak, the levels of oxygen in the air will be dramatically reduced, with potential lethal consequences. To prepare for this, all members of the team have done some training in special altitude chambers in the UK, simulating the conditions on Kilimanjaro. The altitude will also cause the temperature to drop drastically, including to below freezing.
The altitude is a massive issue for almost every person that takes on Kilimanjaro. This is one of the reasons that all groups that take on the mountain must be accompanied by sherpas who practically live on the mountain and know it like the back of their hands. These local guides will be invaluable to the Martin’s Mountain team.
Where will the money raised go?
The Martin’s Mountain team hope to raise £1 million for SIA by taking on this mammoth challenge. All of this money will go towards helping to make our ambition of a fulfilled life for everyone affected by spinal cord injury a reality
How can I support Martin’s Mountain?
If reading Martin’s story of climbing 19,000ft has inspired you to take on some fundraising to support Martin’s Mountain, you can set yourself a #MY19 challenge. Full details here: https://www.spinal.co.uk/news/my19-challenge-2/