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Two UOWD students climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak

Sunday, 25 July, 2010

Two UOWD students from Tanzania have successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, following six months of arduous training in Dubai.

The students, sisters Afshaan and Sara Mukhtar, undergraduate students enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) began the climb on July 12, taking the Marangu trail out of the five trails for Mount Kilimanjaro and reached the Uhuru summit on the morning of July 15. However, due to severe altitude sickness Afshaan had to stop at Williams Point, while Sara continued the climb and reached the Uhuru summit on 15th July 2010 at 10am.

"We trained for nearly six months in order to be fit for the climb. Our routine included climbing 250 floors once a week, training a total of 12 km uphill every week and completing approximately 25 kms a week on normal terrain, said Afshaan. "The training has been physically and mentally challenging, with the level of intensity increasing as the expedition got closer.

Located in the north-east of Tanzania, Kilimanjaro stands about 5,895 metres (19,340 feet) high, ranking as the highest free standing mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet from the base to the summit. It is also the fourth highest among the seven summits in the world.

Kilimanjaro has been hailed as one of the few places on earth that encompasses every ecological life zone. The five-day climb offered stunning sceneries. The trek began at the Marangu Gate through a forest to Mandara which is 2,700 meters high. The next day was a walk through the 12 hills of savannah towards Horombo at 3,720 metres. The third day was a hike through the cold Alpine desert which ends at the Kibo huts at an altitude of 4,703 metres. And finally, the same day they began the steep ascent to the icy cradle of the Uhuru summit standing at 5,895 metres.

The journey, as adventurous as it sounds, was a test of not only physical ability, but also inner strength and the will to push past all human limitations to achieve success and a view of the Earths horizon reserved for the eyes of the brave few. On reaching the summit, the sisters placed a commemorative UOWD flag on the summit.

The Mukhtar sisters are no new-comers to Mount Kilimanjaro. Afshaan has scaled the Kilimanjaro twice and this was her third attempt to reach the Uhuru summit. Sara has climbed the Kilimanjaro once and this was her second attempt to reach the Uhuru summit.

When not training in mountain climbing the sisters have been highly active at UOWD. Afshaan has worked as an intern at the UOWD Student Services department as well as a student tutor. She was also the treasurer of the Student Representative Council at UOWD and President of Connexionz Club for a year. An active member of the Public Speaking Club, she secured first place as a speaker for the UOWD team in the 9th Annual EEG Public Speaking Competition and second place in the 5th annual Wollongong Public Speaking Competition in the public address category.

Sara is currently an Events Intern at the Student Services department of UOWD. She was student tutor for two years and is the current President of Connexionz Club. She was the winner of UOWD Mathalone Spring 2008 - Category 2 and was part of the UOWD research team that won at the 9th Annual EEG Public Speaking Competition.