A team of top UK chefs led by Ashley Palmer-Watts has successfully completed a gruelling eight-day climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.
Palmer-Watts, head chef of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and his team have raised nearly £50,000 for the Farm Africa Food for Good campaign in the process, having been inspired by the charity's work on a visit to Kenya last year.
Palmer-Watts was joined in the challenge by John Freeman, head chef of Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, Paul Foster, head chef of Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk, and Paulo de Tarso, Maitre D' of Bar Boulud in London.
Speaking on the Farm Africa website, Ashley Palmer-Watts said: "I thought day five was going to be the hardest day for me, climbing ‘The Wall' a steep rocky cliff, with my fear of heights. Feeling tired and with not much sleep we set off at midnight towards the summit. The journey to the top was mentally and physically more demanding than anything I've ever done before. And at a few points I didn't think I was going to make it. But when we reached Stella point after 6.5 hrs with 1 more hour to go, I knew I was going to. With the massive crater on the right and the glacier on the left, the beautiful sunrise coming up really spurred me on to get to Uhuru peak. It was incredibly emotional seeing the whole team at the top and I'm very proud the whole team pulled together and made it."
Paul Foster said: "That was the toughest thing that I've ever done. My body completely gave up on me. I could barely put one foot in front of the other but my head was the only thing keeping me going. I was determined to make it to the top. When I actually made it I'd never been so emotional; a sense of relief, pride and pain all at once. I was just so drained, all my feelings blurred into one emotion."
Paulo de Tarso added: "It was extremely hard. Climbing at midnight in freezing conditions - you go up step by step which is slow but incredibly difficult. When we were summiting we saw a few people who were obviously very ill being rushed down. That was mentally tough. I looked at my watch after only climbing for three hours and it was agony knowing I had another 3.5 hours to go. As the sun started to rise our porters started singing to encourage us on and I started crying. I was so emotional. At Stella point I became very confident I could make it. I was thinking of my wife and kids constantly and knew I had to make it to Uhuru for them and myself. When I got to the summit I was extremely emotional thinking about what we had achieved."