A WADEBRIDGE security consultant whose daughter is affected by a brain disorder has conquered Africa's highest peak on the latest stage of his four-continent trek – overcoming altitude sickness and temperatures as low as minus 10C.
Ian Rutherford, 51, is raising money for a charity that offers support for people with dystonia, and has already hiked across Barbados. In April he tackled the 550-year-old Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes.
Mr Rutherford's strenuous trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – a 5,895-metre dormant volcanic mountain situated in Tanzania near the border with Kenya – took six days and gave Mr Rutherford bouts of altitude sickness.
"It was hard – when we got to the stage of the final ascent I went to hell and back," Mr Rutherford said.
"We got to Gilman's Point, which is 300 metres from the summit, and that's when temperatures began to plummet to minus 10C and the altitude sickness really kicked in – the dizzy feeling and loss of sensation in your limbs – I went into a state of shock."
The Kilimanjaro National Park shows that only 41 per cent of trekkers actually reach the summit, with the majority turning around at Gilman's Point.
Mr Rutherford's nine-year-old daughter, Katie, suffers from dystonia, which incorporates uncontrollable and sometimes painful muscle spasms caused by incorrect signals from the brain. Other brain functions, such as memory and intellect, are not affected.
There are different types of the condition, focal dystonia being the most common, which affects only one part of the body. It is estimated to affect 70,000 people in the UK.
Mr Rutherford is raising money for the Dystonia Society and is hoping to reach a total of £10,000. The total currently stands at £6,000.
The culmination of his fundraising efforts will be in the spring when Mr Rutherford will hike along Hadrian's Wall, before trekking to the base camp of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest in Nepal.
He said: "When my daughter was diagnosed with dystonia four years ago, it changed my life. It has changed her life, as it has for thousands of others. By raising funds, I want to help change their lives for the better.
"My challenge is to complete some of the most inhospitable treks around the world, and raise money to help those who suffer from dystonia and raise awareness of this condition.
"The funds I raise will help the Dystonia Society to continue their excellent work in helping sufferers, creating awareness and supporting research."
Mr Rutherford said the local support has been fantastic.
"The locals have been fabulous, without them donating their hard-earned money this wouldn't be possible so I want to thank them for that and I hope that support continues as I try to reach my target."
To sponsor Mr Rutherford visit www.dystoniatreks.com