Summit else: Will prepares to scale fund-raising heights

A Cavers man is preparing to conquer Africa’s highest mountain in the challenge of a lifetime, writes Sarah Williamson.

Inspired by his late wife, Will Roberts will be 71 years old when he attempts to scale one of the world’s toughest peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro.

But with the company of five nieces and the charity close to their hearts spurring them on, the former RAF navigator is going all out to complete the dangerous climb.

Mr Roberts, who lost his wife Ellie to Motor Neurone disease nearly three years ago, told the Hawick News: “I decided to go for this last year at a meeting of Motor Neurone Disease Scotland, of which I’m a trustee. It will be a hell of a challenge, but the great thing is that I have five nieces
coming with me so it should
be a fantastic experience.”

Such pluckiness for the charity already runs in the family, as Mr Roberts’ daughter Becky embarked on a massive cycle around the UK back in 2013, entitled Becc’s Big Bike Ride, in which she completed 2,500 miles in 28 days.

But now Mr Roberts, who drove the support van for Becky’s fund-raiser, is preparing for his own once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

The Denholm Community Councillor is taking regular hikes up Ruberslaw, as well as weekly walks with a group of friends called the Teviothead Trekkers. He also attends the gym, but Mr Roberts admits that no amount of training can fully prepare them for what lies ahead.

“Of course, the danger is altitude sickness which no one can prepare for”, he stated. “Even 37 years’ flying in the RAF won’t make any difference. And it will also be a mental challenge.”

The group of 27 will take four days to climb Kilimanjaro, and two days to descend. The final ascent will be completed at night in order to reach the 5,895 metre peak at sunrise.

Mr Roberts added: “Of course I’m anxious, but I’m
really looking forward it and just want to do it, and succeed.”

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania. It is also the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 ft above sea level.