“Exhilarating, exhausting and surreal” are three words Liz Wilson has used to describe completing the toughest challenge of her life.
Just a few weeks ago the 36-year-old climbed the highest free-standing mountain in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro in a bid to raise £5,000 in memory of her friend Bethan Reading.
Mum-of-one Bethan died in 2013 and a group of friends set about fundraising for Breast Cancer Now in her honour.
So far, Liz has raised £4,200, from the challenge, but hopes a final push at Bicester’s Christmas Market, in Sheep Street, on December 9, will help her edge closer to her target.
Kilimanjaro, also known as the Roof of Africa, is 5,895m (19,341ft) above sea level and she said one of her best moments was reaching the summit.
She said: “It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Almost surreal.
“You spend so long getting up there and then it seems as if all of a sudden you’re there, and then heading back down again.”
Over the 10-day trek Liz and her fellow walkers were on their feet for six to eight hours a day, but on summit day the group left camp at 1am and had to trek in the dark, higher and higher, towards the peak.
She described her legs feeling like lead, how “disorientating” the darkness was and how the higher she got, the harder it was to breathe.
She said: “I contemplated giving up several times.
“But I just kept thinking about all the people who have supported me and why I was doing it and actually compared to what people who are fighting breast cancer deal with, this really was nothing.
“I frequently thought of Beth and alongside that and a constant internal chant of ‘just one more step Liz’ I managed to push on.
“More than eight hours after leaving camp, I finally hauled myself up to that famous summit sign at 9.30am. Exhausted but thrilled.
“I’ve never done anything like this before – but I’d definitely do it again.”
As well as taking on the massive challenge, Liz said she had made some ‘life-long’ friends.
Beth’s Pink Ladies had so far raised £48,298 for the charity and next year hope to “smash through” the £50,000 mark.