In amongst all the fun and enjoyment that happens when climbing Kilimanjaro, it’s easy to forget how dangerous the mountain can be. Because Africa’s highest mountain definitely has a dark side, with around half a dozen people dying each year in their attempts to conquer it.
This was brought home to me recently when I came across a report of an Irishwoman, Majella Duffy, who died while trekking on Kilimanjaro last month from altitude sickness. The article, printed in the Irish Times, is based around an interview with her local priest, Canon Michael Leamy, who talks about how difficult it’s been to come to terms with the death, and how it all feels surreal.
Canon Leamy recalls how they had organised a coffee morning to raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation and told mourners at Majella’s funeral. “None of us who called that day could have envisaged what is taking place here today.”
It is understood that Ms Duffy became ill at about 4000m, and although she was attended to by a doctor who was on the trek, her condition worsened and she later died on the mountain. According to the report, Ms Duffy was climbing in memory of her father, who had died from a heart condition.