The sixth and final Hike for Hope: Ethiopia

The group trekked through the wild and rugged Simien mountain range over seven days and on the final day reached the summit after a 3.30am start and a gruelling 14-hour ascent to the top.

Adventurer and the Queen’s former Surgeon Gynaecologist, Sir Marcus Setchell and renowned prostate surgeon Professor Roger Kirby put on their hiking boots for a final time to help raise £145,000 for Wellbeing of Women and The Urology Foundation by climbing the 4,533m high peak, Ras Dashen, in Ethiopia.

Sir Marcus who recently celebrated his 75th birthday and Roger, 68, took part in the last of their Hike for Hope Series which to date has raised £1.4 million. They were joined by friends, colleagues and supporters.

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“There were so many memorable moments”

The group trekked through the wild and rugged Simien mountain range over seven days and on the final day reached the summit after a 3.30am start and a gruelling 14-hour ascent to the top.

Wellbeing of Women’s honorary president, Sir Marcus, said: “Those of us who had been on previous Hike for Hope treks all agreed that this was the most physically challenging of all the treks.

“Our age range was early 30s to late 70s. This trek was exceptional because of the altitude, which was almost entirely between 3000 and 4000 metres, the peak of Ras Dashen being over 4,500 metres, and the length and steepness of the uphill terrains.

“All 14 of the trekkers coped amazingly well; many of them had never done anything like this before and were way outside their comfort zone.

“In the last three days we would ascend to above 4000 metres and then drop down almost 1000m for the next campsite, so one had the feeling of ‘one step up leading to two steps down’. What one was really doing was gradually acclimatising to strenuous exercise at high altitude.

“All of us found we very nearly reached the limits of our capabilities with the 14-hour final ascent. I was not alone in accepting that I was unlikely to reach the peak, but the sense of elation as we got near to it, fired us up with the feeling that having got this far, one could make the last 200 metres of nearly sheer rock face.”

The courageous group of 14 were aided with experts guides to ensure their safety.

Marcus explained: We had three scouts armed with an AK45 and two rifles to protect us from animals, who walked almost in silence with us, and willingly carried one’s rucksack for the most difficult uphill patches, and always lending a hand on the scariest passages.

“We also had a friendly white pony known as The Ambulance. He carried a large bag of emergency medical supplies, and if needed would have carried any of us who got injured to safety. Very reassuring, but fortunately not needed.”

Along the way the group were treated to stunning vistas of lush green valleys and dramatic ridges and even spotted the famous Simien baboons.

“The landscape was indescribably beautiful and dramatic, and we were very lucky with the weather which was warm and sunny nearly all the time. Night time was seriously cold, often with frost on the inside of the tent, requiring at least three layers of clothes.

“There were so many memorable moments. Roger’s indefatigable jokes, laughter and teasing from dawn to dusk was inspirational to all, the cheery kids we met all along the way, some of whom carried bottles of coke and souvenirs to sell to us,” Sir Marcus added.

More than a decade ago in 2006, Sir Marcus and Roger embarked on their first Hike for Hope in Petra, Jordan. Since then, the amateur explorers have completed four more treks across Kenya, the Sinai desert, India and the Atlas Mountains to raise a total of £1.3 million for men and women’s charities.

After a six-year respite on 17th November, the pair set off for their sixth and final charity trek.

Wellbeing of Women CEO, Janet Lindsay, said: “We are enormously grateful to Sir Marcus, Roger and everyone who took part in this challenge, for the hours given over to training, the sacrifices, the sore feet and not least the two weeks given up taking part in the trek. We couldn’t do what we do without their selfless and generous support raising funds to invest in vital research, training and education to help more men, women, children and babies everywhere.”

Support their tremendous efforts here: