Emirati, 14, summits Kilimanjaro

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Alshunnar

FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD Seif Saleh Alshunnar must be feeling good as he has bested his two older brothers’ feat to become the youngest Emirati to reach the summit of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro is considered as the highest free standing mountain in the world, standing at 5,895 meters above sea level. Seif reached its peak on June 27.

With this achievement, the title passed to Seif from his two older brothers who held the same honor in succession. His brothers Moawiyah Saleh Alshunnar reached the Kilimanjaro summit aged 15-and-a-half, and Ali Saleh Alshunnar at age 15 years and 1 month.

According to Seif, his brothers actually helped him prepare for his Kilimanjaro assault.

“They had both climbed before and they helped me throughout my training. So deep down, they were always rooting for me,” he said.

A Grade 9 student at Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS) in Dubai, Seif said he wanted to beat his brothers’ record so much that he persuaded his father to take him to Kilimanjaro in early summer this year.

Along with his father and other climbers, Seif had to hike several thousand meters each day for hours despite limited sleep and just basic food to replenish his strength.

Seif said the climb to reach the summit, Uhuru Peak, on June 27 was the most gruelling part of the journey but it was worth it.

“It was bitterly cold, dark and we trekked to the top for several hours. This was certainly a life-changing experience and conjured up a mix of feelings and emotions from pain and exhaustion to joy and elation,” he said.

As his climb coincided with the Year of Zayed, Seif said breaking the record and holding the UAE flag at the highest point in Africa were the perfect way of honoring UAE’s Founding Father. WAM

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