Sunderland firefighter doesn’t need a ladder to scale the heights

An elated John Baines reaches 'the roof of Africa', the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

An elated John Baines reaches 'the roof of Africa', the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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A FIRE chief has given a charity a £5,000 boost after reaching the summit of Africa’s highest mountain.

John Baines, area manager for community safety at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, was part of a 17-strong group who took on the 19,340ft Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, in aid of Coco (Comrades of Children Overseas).

The charity, which was founded by former world champion athlete Steve Cram, helps those in the developing world by funding a number of projects.

After a six-day trek to reach base camp on Mount Kilimanjaro, they reached the summit in freezing, sub-zero conditions.

John said: “It was a gruelling climb in temperatures of minus 15 degrees and lower. The path was unforgiving and in parts was like a lunar landscape, with sand and gravel giving away underfoot.

“By 6.20am we had reached stellar point and we could see sunlight breaking on the horizon, showing the curve of the earth. Thirty minutes later we reached the summit – the roof of Africa as it is called – by which time the sun had risen, illuminating the glaciers and the deep brown volcanic ash that lines the crater.

“It was a fantastic sight, and one that I’m certain we will all remember for the rest of our lives.”

During their stay the team also visited some of the initiatives supported by Coco, the first being a women’s centre and orphanage in Moshi, as well as Londoto Primary School.

He added: “I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you on behalf of all of the trekking team to all of the people and organisations who have supported our Kilimanjaro climb and the great work of Coco.”

*To donate to John’s fund-raising, go to www.justgiving.com/john-baines or www.justgiving.com/coco.