Busfield completes charity Kilimanjaro climb

Last week, Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Head of Partnerships and Development, Dan Busfield, completed a momentous challenge when he reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Busfield, who set himself the challenge to mark his 40th birthday and raise vital funds for Leeds Rhinos Foundation, reached the top of Africa’s tallest peak on Saturday after a gruelling climb that lasted almost six days.

Along with a team of walkers, as well as numerous guides and porters, Busfield climbed for up to 12 hours a day in some treacherous conditions to reach the summit of the 19,341ft mountain. Now safely back in Leeds, he says that the sense of immense achievement is finally beginning to set in.

“I’m glad to be back if I’m honest; it was pretty tough. There were some experienced climbers who had done Everest base camp and even they said that this was by far the toughest thing they’d done.

“You’re going at a slow pace due to the altitude and we all went through a bit of suffering from altitude sickness at some point. The conditions going up were incredibly tough with rain and snow and at the summit itself the temperature dropped to -17 degrees.

“Looking back now, as it sinks in, it was a great experience. I’m immensely proud of myself because I pushed myself to the limit, not just physically, but also mentally- that was the hardest part to get through.

“All I could think about was finishing it because I didn’t want to let anybody down; whether it was my family or people that sponsored me. I guess when I reached the summit it was more relief that I’d got there and completed the mission.”

Ahead of the climb, Busfield had been invited by Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s partners Leeds Beckett University to complete some high-altitude training and take on some expert advice on how to tackle the mountain effectively.

Having now experienced the conditions on Kilimanjaro, he says that without the training it could have been a totally different experience.

“Without a doubt, the altitude training helped me massively and I can’t thank Peter Mackreth and Dr Mark Cooke at Leeds Beckett University enough for helping me to understand what I would feel like up there.

“I do think that had a major impact for myself mentally, as it wasn’t as much as a shock to my system as maybe for some other people. In terms of the psychological effect that then had, you can see it affecting some of our team a lot more than others.

“The loss of appetite and lack of sleep does chip away at you, but I was so focused on doing it and because I prepared properly I managed to stay quite positive and certain in my own mind that I’d complete it.

“Thankfully were some great people with me and the support we received was unbelievable. I think we had 50 people looking after us, right from chefs to porters, to the guides and leaders, so it was really well organised by Exodus.

“It was quite emotional when we finally reached the top and there were a few tears amongst the group, but we had to be really quick after the photos because the weather was coming in and some people were badly suffering from altitude sickness and general exhaustion. I didn’t have a long time to take it all in, but the memory of standing at the summit will stay with me forever.”

Donations for the climb have now surpassed the £6,000 mark, with Busfield keen to thank everyone who has shown their support, both for himself and Leeds Rhinos Foundation, who will receive all of the proceeds.

“I’ve had a really positive reaction and I’m so thankful to everyone who has sponsored me so far,” said Busfield.

“My sponsorship page will stay open, so it would be great if people could spare what they can for a charity that makes a real difference in the community by changing lives through sport.”

You can donate to Busfield’s Virgin Money Giving page and help him to raise vital funds for Leeds Rhinos Foundation by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/climbingforcharity.