Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro is a challenge for any mountaineer – but if one young fundraiser achieves the feat he is due to end up in the record books.
While most 10-year-olds are looking forward to their summer holidays, Jack Rea has headed for Tanzania and is planning an assault on Africa’s tallest mountain which stands at a 19,340ft. If he is successful, he will become the youngest Briton to achieve the milestone.
He travelled to Tanzania at the weekend with his father, Aaron, and his climb will raise money for the charity, Operation Smile.
His challenge has already attracted the backing of a number of high-profile supporters including Louis Tomlinson of the record-breaking group One Direction, and former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward.
The One Direction star, who grew up in Doncaster, said: “Jack is such a great lad and there should be more kids like you out there.”
Jack, from Wetherby, who is a pupil at Aysgarth School, at Newton-le-Willows, added: “I want to support Operation Smile and become the youngest British person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
“It is my ambition to climb the seven summits which are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents.
“Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and is my first summit I am going to complete.”
Jack will begin his final ascent at midnight on Sunday from Kibo camp at 15,419ft and will walk non-stop for up to 15 hours. It is expected to take him about seven hours to reach Uhuru Peak and he will then walk back down.
If all goes to plan, he will be one of the youngest ever climbers to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit. Although a seven-year-old from Los Angeles is credited with making the climb, the Tanzanian authorities say only people over 10 are allowed to attempt it and the official world record holder, who also hails from America, was only nine days younger than Jack will be on the day he attempts to conquer the mountain.
Sir Clive, an ambassador for Operation Smile, which helps children born with cleft lips and cleft palate, said: “This is an amazing effort from a young man and every penny he raises will go to young people who need cleft operations. Jack’s an amazing role model and I wish him the very best of luck.”
The youngster will spend time acclimatising and will have to cope with life at high altitude, but his grandfather Martin Rea claimed he will be accompanied by guides and thinks he is well equipped to cope.
Mr Rea said: “He is extremely determined and nothing phases him, he just takes it in his stride. I am his grandfather – of course I think he’s fantastic – but I really do think its really extraordinary that somebody of that age can go out and not worry about it and just do it.”
By yesterday, Jack had received pledges of £6,741.18.
He has already attempted a number of other challenges including the Three Peaks when he was eight, Pen y Fan in Wales and the National Three Peaks. He has also used the challenges to raise cash for other charities.
Mr Rea claimed his grandson enjoys walking and being in the outdoors, but said he had not done any particular training for Kilimanjaro and fully expects him to start plotting his next challenge as soon as he gets back.
“He does not do any training he just does normal boys things. He does not go out specifically and walk and walk he just says ‘I am going to do that’ and away he goes,” Mr Rea added.
People can donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/Jack-Rhodes-Rea-2