British business magnate Richard Branson recently took on the Strive for Big Change initiative, which aimed to conquer Mt Kenya and raise funds for education reform. In this article, we bring you Branson’s mount Kenya climbing experience.
The billionaire led a team of over 25 people including his son Sam and his nephew Noah, who climbed the mountain to its peak of 16, 355ft above sea level, enduring both chilly and blissful weather conditions. “We set off in great spirits explaining to everyone what the journey was all about- testing ourselves, having fun together, and raising funds for Big Change, a wonderful challenge set up to reimagine and transform education,” Branson said.
Richard Branson’s Mount Kenya Climbing Strive Challenge
The Strive Challenge is an annual charity founded by Branson’s son and nephew to reimagine and transform education. The challenge aims to test the limits of individuals and raise funds for a good cause. The challenge consists of a physically demanding and mentally challenging journey, which this year took the form of climbing Mount Kenya.
The climb would be a true test of strength and determination, but the Strivers were excited about the challenge.
The purpose of the Strive Challenge is to raise funds for Big Change. Additionally, the challenge is also an opportunity for individuals to push themselves to their limits and accomplish something truly extraordinary.
Branson, an adventurer, and thrill-seeker has had a lifelong love for climbing and has tackled many peaks in the past. He has climbed Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Mt Etna, and Mt Toubkal, to name a few. Therefore, he had confidence heading into the Mount Kenya climb, but he was aware of the challenges it would bring.
The Journey to the Summit
The journey to the summit of Mount Kenya was a challenging and memorable experience for Richard Branson and the team. Setting off in great spirits, the initial impressions of the climb were of beautiful mornings, waking up in tents with spectacular views and astonishing sunrises.
As the climb progressed, the team traversed enormous, soggy ravines and emerged into yet more stunning lakes and waterfalls. The team couldn’t resist getting in the water, as they took a break and swam in the beautiful surroundings. However, as they climbed higher, the altitude made breathing difficult and sleeping even harder. There was freezing cold, driving rain, and sleet, with less snow than expected due to the impact of climate change.
Despite the challenges, the local team provided exceptional support during the climb, carrying equipment and ensuring the safety of the team. Altitude sickness and exhaustion caused some team members not to make it to the summit, but they showed incredible bravery in making the right call and walking more than 12 hours down the mountain through the night in perilous conditions. The local team was also instrumental in providing support and guidance throughout the journey, making the climb a success for all.
Branson acknowledged that the Strive Challenge is always testing people’s nerves, and this year was no different. He said, “Prior to setting off, the impression I got was there wasn’t going to be so much technical climbing, and my training would set me in good stead. But, as it turned out, it was pretty brutal.” Despite the challenges, the team pressed on, encouraged by the goal of raising funds for education reform and the desire to have education for life and not just for exams.
The Emotional and Physical Challenges of the Climb
The emotional and physical challenges of the climb were significant for Sir Richard Branson and his team. The altitude and sleeping conditions proved to be difficult, with many team members struggling to adjust. Despite this, moments of doubt were overcome through the importance of staying positive, with the team supporting each other through these challenges. To keep spirits high, the team engaged in discussions about education reform. This helped to keep morale high and gave the team a sense of purpose, even when things were tough.
Sir Richard Branson also had to deal with an injured foot, which added an extra layer of difficulty to the climb. At one point, dealing with the cold and exhaustion during the climb, Branson asked himself what he was doing halfway up a mountain, but he soldiered on.
Sam led yoga sessions during breaks and sang in the evenings to keep their spirits high. Branson spoke to Aliyah Irabor, a young woman from East London, who was nervous and tearful on the first day. By the end of the challenge, she had conquered her fears, reached the summit, and became an inspiration to everyone. Branson believed that she would go on to achieve great things.
The emotional and physical challenges faced by the team were not only significant but also meaningful, as the experience resulted in individual successes and personal growth for all members.
The Impact of the Climb
The success of the climb, led by Richard Branson, was not just measured by the team’s ability to reach the summit, but also by the funds raised for education reform. The Strive for Big Change initiative, which aimed to conquer Mt Kenya, was able to raise a significant amount of money for the Big Change Charity.
Branson reflected on the climb and the impact of the Big Change charity, noting that “so many people helped make this adventure happen, and I know the funds raised for Big Change will make a huge difference to education reform… There is a long way to go, and I’m sure we will keep striving to make a difference.” He also acknowledged the importance of supporting each other and working as a team during the climb, saying “I’m looking forward to the next adventure already”.
The billionaire’s excitement for future challenges is evident as he continues to strive for change in education reform. His dedication and commitment to this cause, as well as his willingness to take on physical challenges to raise funds, serve as an inspiration to many.
Photo credits: virgin.com & Adam Slama.