Paralympian, Aaron Phipps Becomes First Brit To Summit Mount Kilimanjaro In A Wheelchair

Reaching the summit of Africa’s tallest peak is no easy task, yet last week London Paralympic athlete and double amputee Aaron Phipps became the first British man to reach the Roof of Africa, not on foot, but in a wheelchair!

The 33 year old father of two lost both of his legs and most of his fingers after being diagnosed with Meningitis C at the age of 15. This fact has never stopped Aaron from doing the things he enjoys though. The Hampshire resident represented the British wheelchair rugby team in the 2012 London Paralympic games and just last month completed the London Marathon, raising over £35,000 for the Shaw Trust and the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro represented an entirely different task for the athlete who showed no hesitation in accepting the challenge. “The Foundation asked me if I was interested, and at the time I didn’t really think about the fact that I’d be in a wheelchair”. The Brit admitted that “The main problem will be the altitude. Getting myself up a hill whilst not being able to breathe very easily is going to be really tough”.

To prepare for the altitude Aaron is said to have taken multiple chair lifts to the summit of Mont Blanc – the tallest mountain in the Alps. Standing at over 15,000ft, the summit of Mont Blanc was the ideal acclimatization zone for the amputee who would sit at the top for long periods of time to get used to the thinner and less oxygenated air.

The preparation certainly paid off as the Brit raced up the mountain reaching the summit in only 5 days. Aaron used a specifically designed wheelchair called a Mountain Trike. The Trike, which was designed for mountainous terrain, had special leavers built in to help with uphill propulsion. After a long hard slog during summit night, the Paralympian reached the summit at 10am, sporting a wide grin from ear to ear.

Aaron is one of only a few people to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair. The last was Aaron Anderson from Sweden, and later this year Shaun Gash aims to go for the summit as well!

As before, the Brit was climbing to raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and Shaw Trust. Aaron has currently raised over £16,000 towards his £20,000 goal and his page on JustGiving is still taking donations. We wish Aaron all the best in his future endeavours!

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