Hike for Hope VI: Ethiopia

In the last week of November, 14 intrepid individuals, including Sir Marcus Setchell and myself, travelled to Addis Ababa and then on to Gondar to trek for 100 miles through the Simien Mountains and to climb Ethiopia’s highest peak in order to raise much needed funds for The Urology Foundation (TUF) and Wellbeing of Women (WoW). 

On our first morning we were driven about 100km from Gondar to Debark, where the Simien Mountains National Park headquarters are located. After picking up the rest of our trekking crew, our armed national park scouts, food supplies and our camping equipment in Debark, we were transported beyond the Simien Mountain Lodge. We then trekked along the escarpment were we got our first, very spectacular views over the extraordinarily dramatic Simien Mountain range.

After overnight camping at Sankaber (3250m) we trekked to Geech, traversing along the escarpment before dropping down to get views of the spectacular Geech Abyss into which the Djinnbarr Waterfall drops spectacularly into the valley below. We then crossed the river and ascended through terraced farmland where glimpses of the whole Simien mountain chain came into view, before camping at Geech campsite (3600m) for the next two nights.

 The following day we experienced one of the most spectacular parts of the trek along the escarpment to Imet Gogo, which stands at 3925m. The views on this day were truly spectacular and it also afforded us the opportunity to acclimatise for the higher altitude in the days ahead.

The next day we continued our trek through open grasslands and giant lobelias, along the edge of the escarpment to Chenek. Here we thought that we caught a brief glimpse of the elusive and endangered Simien Wolf, and definitely saw a leopard in the far distance. Chenek is one of the best areas to see the endemic Walia Ibex, a large mountain goat unique to Ethiopia, with distinctively patterned fore-legs and large, ridged horns. Groups of Gelada Baboons are also common around Chenek. This area is also famous for birds, especially raptors, in particular the large and powerful Lammergeyer (Bearded Vulture) that we saw in abundance.

On day eight we had a long and exhausting trek as we left for Ambiko at the foot of Ras Dashen. After a steep ascent to Bwahit Pass (4200m), beneath Bwahit Peak (4430m) – the second highest mountain on our route, we took rest in order to take in the incredible outlook across the valley below. From here we got our first sighting of Ras Dashen (4533m), the highest point in a wall of cliffs and peaks on the skyline at the far side of the valley. We then undertook a steep and long descent down to the village of Chiro Leba, before crossing the Meshehe River. A tiring day concluded with a final steep climb to the village of Ambiko.

On day nine we undertook our toughest day’s trek to Mt Ras Dashen. After a 3am start, using head-torches, we climbed to the highest point in Ethiopia – the summit of Ras Dashen at 4533m. We began our slow and steady climb through farmland and giant lobelia forests for about six hours, before a very steep scramble to the summit. On the summit we celebrated, absorbing the spectacular panorama stretching away towards Eritrea. From the top, with the help of our guides, we undertook the same tricky scramble down then continued descending for about 4-5 hours to camp overnight at Ambiko (3100m).

On our last day we trekked our final steps back across the river to Ambiko village to the end of our challenge. In Ambiko we visited a local school, handing out presents of pencils and writing paper to ecstatic children. After loading up, we were transferred back to Gondar. After a well-deserved shower and rest, we enjoyed our celebratory dinner, toasting our achievements and reflecting on our amazing experiences in this stunning part of the world.

The best news of all is that we succeeded to raise a sum of £145,000 to support the important work done by TUF and WoW. Who will join us on our very next exciting challenge: cycling coast to coast across Costa Rica: https://www.dream-challenges.com/challenges/the-urology-foundation-cycle-costa-rica/?

To watch the video of their adventure, please see below. 

Comments (17) Add yours ↓
  1. Louise de Winter Chief Executive, The Urology Foundation

    What a truly amazing achievement and fantastic adventure! Thank you to everyone who took part to raise funds for the charities. The Urology Foundation (TUF) seeks to end the suffering caused by urological diseases through prevention, treatment and cure. We raise awareness of urology disease and make sure people know the signs and symptoms to look for, we help to improve patient treatment and care by providing training into techniques such as robotic surgery, and we fund research into urological cancers and diseases to help find the cures of tomorrow.

    We could not do any of this without the support of donors and individual fundraisers such as the people who took part in this trek. So thank you!

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  2. Dr Kath Sutton GP - recently retired.

    A challenge that matches previous ones I have done in the Himalayas and Kilimanjaro. Ethiopia is a stunning country to visit – and for a very worthwhile cause. We were also able to visit the Fistula hospital in Addis Ababa where they repair the results of obstructive childbirth and rehabilitate the women – very humbling experience.

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  3. Claire Mellon Obstetrician

    As a fellow trekker I feel we all need to thank Roger in particular for his constant encouragement / humour / gentle kindness throughout the whole trip – He and Marcus are inspirational. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I can say it was such good fun and thrilling in an extraordinary country.
    So proud to have been involved in the fundraising and hopefully will fund some great research.

    Thanks again Roger –
    Claire Mellon – trustee of wellbeing of women
    Unfit obstetrician whose scared of heights- but survived

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  4. Leo Wilson

    It was a great trip with a wonderful group of people to help us all struggle through the mountains. It was beautiful countryside but very challenging to trek through and it was brilliant that everyone managed to make it all the way through to the end!

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  5. Janet Lindsay Chief Executive

    Thank you to everyone who took part in this trek, by all accounts it was one of the toughest in the Hike for Hope series. Well Done to everyone reaching the summit! We are enormously grateful for all your time and efforts.

    Wellbeing of Women is the UK’s foremost women’s health charity, funding pioneering medical research to find improved treatments, cures, diagnoses and preventions for women’s health in areas such as childbirth, pregnancy, gynaecological cancers and quality of life issues like endometriosis and the menopause.  Many of the practices which are taken for granted today in clinics and hospitals around the country have come about thanks to our research over the last 54 years. These include taking folic acid supplements to protect the unborn baby and the use of ultrasound scans in pregnancy. Research we funded discovered the link between HPV and cervical cancer. Now schoolgirls are routinely vaccinated against the virus and boys will be shortly too. Since the vaccine, there has been a 90% drop off in infection rates and, with HPV being the main cause of cervical cancer, it is a preventable disease for the first time.

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  6. Tim Burton Communications Executive, The Urology Foundation

    Fantastic work from everyone who took part! It’s so powerful to see fundraisers going to such lengths to raise money for urology patients. So often urology diseases can be isolating and lead people to feel excluded; how wonderful to provide a visual demonstration of the fact that they don’t stand alone. Thanks to everyone who took part and well done for raising so much money!

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  7. Kimberley Artist

    A Fabulous hike in a magnificent Kingdom of beauty. The landscape and views breathtaking, the group cohesive and supportive. Lots of fun and really not a walk ion the heath!

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  8. Louise Cable-Alexander Chied of Staff

    Without doubt one of the most memorable weeks of my life ! Loved it all, the people the stunning beauty of the mountains and even Roger’s jokes! Thank you trekker squad for being the best and Roger for making this happen! And to Yigo and Theo for getting us to the top!! What a damn privilege!!! From Princess Pong!! Not missing wearing a torch on my head from 6pm!! But missing all of you!

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  9. Julia Pepler Ms

    The Simien Mountain Trek was the most incredibly varied and spectacular landscape. There was a wonderful sense of unity and togetherness amongst our group. Roger, held us together with his amazing and wicked sense of humour! What a memorable, exhilarating and challenging adventure of a life time.

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  10. Jill Middleton Accountant

    A tough but incredibly rewarding challenge in a breathtakingly beautiful country. A wonderful trip with a great group of intrepid trekkers, happy in the knowledge that we have all contributed to raising funds for two fantastic charities.

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  11. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    What a privilege it was to be a member of the “Fab Fourteen” who all succeeded in completing the challenge with only minor gripes about the 6 days camping without a shower or bath and the freezing 3 am start to scale Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia! The group was quite simply amazing and just brilliant fun to be with. Hike for Hope VI was the most hard core challenge we have done so far! Any takers for Hike for Hope VII?

    December 10, 2018 Reply
  12. Paul Fletcher Chair TUF

    Many congratulations to everyone! It is always humbling to acknowledge the selflessness of those who give up their time and then commit so wholeheartedly to advance these causes. A huge thank you!

    December 11, 2018 Reply
  13. Sir Marcus Setchell Retired Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Hon President of Wellbeing of Women

    Hike for Hope, Ethiopia was born out of the 5 previous tough, but hugely successful joint trekking adventures linking men’s and women’s health charities. Yes, this was the toughest yet, but this fantastically fabulous, fearless, fortitudinous, intrepid Fourteen did it all, some of them never having stepped, or slept, outside their comfort zone like this before.
    The cohesion of the much smaller group than previous H 4 H’s meant that we all got to know each other really well. The mutually supportive spirit, plus leadership of Theo and Iguo and the scouts, not to mention Roger’s bushy-tailed enthusiasm made it all the greatest fun and laughter of them all.

    Congratulations and thanks to the young and not so young on this great achievement, AND to all the sponsors and donors who helped us to raise such a fantastic sum for TUF and Wellbeing of Women’s projects .

    December 11, 2018 Reply
  14. Kate Holmes TUF Ambassador & past participant

    Huge congratulations to the ‘Fab fourteen’!! Having participated in four of the five previous Hike for Hope treks I can truly say that it is a tough experience and this one seems to have pushed the boundaries of toughness even further…
    Fantastic fundraising effort, well done all of you!

    December 11, 2018 Reply
  15. Calum Frampton Dream Challenges

    Many congratulations to our amazing Hike for Hopers who made it to the summit of the highest mountain in Ethiopia! We (Dream Challenges) organise charity challenges all around the world and this is without doubt one of the toughest! We sent a group on the same challenge last year and only 70% of them made it to the summit, which highlights what a great achievement it was for the fabulous fourteen to all make it! The event has raised a significant amount of money for the two fabulous charities so thank you to everyone that took part.

    December 11, 2018 Reply
  16. Bob Campbell Publishing

    Many thanks to Roger for the lively account of an extraordinary adventure which I enjoyed reading in front of a warm fire. I cannot imagine getting up at 3am to climb all day after probably little sleep in a tent. The team spirit and leadership must have been amazing. You have set a high bar for Hike for Hope but I am sure this achievement will inspire the next effort. By taking fund raising to the limit you have more than justified the support from your sponsors.

    December 17, 2018 Reply
  17. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Read the write up of the trek on the WoW website:
    https://www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk/the-sixth-and-final-hike-for-hope-ethiopia/

    December 18, 2018 Reply

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