In February 2014 my husband Dave van Bogaert and I learned about the squalor in Nairobi during a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro. But despite their poverty, the people were all very welcoming and helpful. During our trip we increasingly realized that the differences between Europe and Africa are still very large. After we returned home we couldn’t shake the idea of doing our next climb for charity. This is how the Decom the Challenge was born.
Together with a team from Decom we took on the fantastic challenge of climbing a serious three-thousander mountain!
Written by: Nance van Bogaert
" Despite their poverty, the people were all very welcoming and helpful.”
Along with the rest of the Challenge Team (Daan, Zuzana, Danny, Anke, Natascha, Stephanie) we went to work enthusiastically to raise additional donations. We organized garage sales and some wonderful dinners and lunches. In addition, we obviously trained hard physically in order to be prepared for the climb
Waterfalls, ibexes and mountain peaks
29 August 2015 was the day that marked the start of the challenge week! We began our week of hiking with the impressive amount of over 4800 euros in the bank. We gathered at the base camp in Valsevarenche at the foot of the Gran Paradiso, Italy. Even just the journey over was a great experience as we went over the mountain pass of St. Bernard and through Aosta in the direction of the base camp. We passed through the long valley of Valsevarenche with waterfalls, ibexes and mountain peaks all along the way! Beautiful!
The week started off spectacularly with a rather stiff climb from our base camp. We hiked up to 1,200 meters in altitude through forests, alpine meadows and over rocks. We continued to the foot of the breathtaking Gran Neyron glacier at about 2750 meters.
We stopped there at the lake. The glacier stretched out above us to 3403 meters. From there, there was a glorious view and it turned out to be a nice goal for this first day trek. It had become a serious hike. So even though we were tired, it definitely had been worth it when we returned that first night to base camp.
" The week started off spectacularly with a rather stiff climb from our base camp."
The next two days revolved around our first peak climb, namely the Punta Rossa (3630 meters). The first day we walked from the valley of Cogne up to the Rifugio Victorio Sella. When we arrived at the cabin we enjoyed the sunshine, after which we got ready for our first peak climb.
The first peak climb
After a nice evening and good food in the cabin, we were already up and ready for departure at 5:30 am. With four members of our team and our guide Albert we went outside in the dark. The path quickly became steeper. Once we got to the mountain pass, the surroundings had become rocky. We had to meander upwards across blocks and gravel paths. Then we walked along a glacier over a ridge, without looking too often into the 900-meter deep abyss beside us. What an adventure and exciting experience!
On Wednesday we had a rest day, which we needed badly– as did our muscles. In the afternoon we relaxed together in the historical center of Aosta. There we prepared for the final peak climb for the last two days of our Challenge Week.
"At 5:30 am Albert woke us up again."
We left around noon to get to the starting point of our next hike, towards Rifugio Benevolo (2285 meters). It was a relatively short, but also tough hike. We climbed 600 meters up to the Rifugio where we spent the night. That afternoon we had some wine, played some cards and had more great food in the hut. We went to bed early (boy did we laugh sharing the room together) and were awakened again at 5:30 am by Albert.
Up 3.344 meters
We left in the dark again and ventured into the mountains wearing headlights. The path quickly wound higher and higher and the cabin lights started to appear smaller. As we arrived at the mountain pass, the sun began to find its way over the peaks. We were now walking towards the glacier. Once at the glacier, we gained some elevation over the ridge.
That’s when we set up our cleats. We formed two lead groups and zigzagged further up the glacier. Between the glacier gorges we walked on and finally arrived at a debris field that turned into a ridge of boulders. With a little scrambling we should start to reach the top.
"As one of us doubts whether the stones will stay put and the other goes up with trembling knees, we keep moving closer to our goal. "
This turned out to be an exciting venture. As one of us worried whether the stones would stay put and the other went up with trembling knees, we kept moving closer to our goal. Twenty minutes later we all reached the top and found ourselves on the peak of the Becca della Traviersiere (3344 meters).
A gorgeous view had been waiting for us and we enjoyed it to the fullest. We did it! Our Decom flag proudly waves in between us, as proven in our stunning photo!
Through this initiative we are raising money for the Gikeno Foundation that is dedicated to improve education at the Gikeno primary school in Kenya. Challenge participants found sponsors on their own. We worked together with Just Giving in order to ensure the money is spent well.