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How Stephen Ferris climbed Kilimanjaro

The third episode of our brand new podcast is up, and it’s a cracker! We chat to Stephen Ferris, the Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby legend. He joined us and climbed Kilimanjaro in January 2019, as part of a fundraising trek to raise money for injured rugby players. He described it as the hardest thing he’s ever done, but the experience has definitely changed him for the better. Here are some of the highlights from both the trip and the podcast…

How Stephen Ferris climbed Kilimanjaro

So, how did he get roped in?

“Shane Byrne called me up, and asked if I wanted to climb a mountain. Before I’d even thought about it, I’d said yes! I thought it was for such a great cause.”

“Kilimanjaro wasn’t on my bucket list in the slightest. But I do climb the Mourne Mountains. For me, it is a reset button. Everything negative that I’ve been thinking about, anything that’s distracting, any anxiety or stress, I think about it massively in the car on the way there. But when I’m out on the mountains I push myself hard, and I just seem to get back in the car and nothing is as big a problem as I thought it was before. It’s something I enjoy, but Kilimanjaro was not on my bucket list. But when the opportunity came up, I said yes probably quicker than I should have!”

How the mountains clear your head

“I have friends who go to the Mournes, and spend six hours getting to the top and four hours making their way down. They have the best craic, and stop off for a picnic. I’m not one of those people. I use the Mournes as a challenge for myself. I get into a zone, and I am a little bit competitive, particularly with myself. I set targets. When I’m there, I have one focus, and that’s to beat my time. Worrying about covid, family, anything, it is still in your mind. But it seems to go right to the back.”

Trekking Kilimanjaro with Earth's Edge sunrise

What he learned when he climbed Kilimanjaro

“There were 32 people on that trip. You find out about everyone. You get to really know people. Being on the mountains is brilliant for the soul. I’ve kept it up more so after Kilimanjaro. I’m better at navigating mountains, I learned a lot on the trip to Kilimanjaro. It’s small things that really make a difference.”

The team on his expedition

“Initially, I had no idea what to expect. I was super impressed. Our porters just wanted us to feel safe, secure and taken care of. And that started from the minute we got off the plane, to the minute we got back on to go home. The guides were absolutely fantastic.”

If you want to hear all about the madcap adventures from the players (and how to fit two massive rugby players into a tent) then this is the podcast for you! Find out all about Stephen’s experience on Kilimanjaro, the rugby players he trekked with and how the trip impacted his life, by listening to the podcast here.

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