Sophie Stedman on the top of Kilimanjaro   Photo by: Sophie Stedman
Sophie Stedman on the top of Kilimanjaro Photo by: Sophie Stedman

KU student braves fractured back to climb Kilimanjaro

A KU student beat all odds when she climbed Kilimanjaro, despite suffering from several breaks in her leg and fractures in her back.

Sophie Stedman, 22, an international relations and journalism student, fractured her back badly in a snowboarding accident in France two years ago. “I fell and landed awkwardly. I fractured two vertebrae in my lower back, and after spending over a week in a French hospital I was airlifted back to the UK to begin the

“I fell and landed awkwardly. I fractured two vertebrae in my lower back, and after spending over a week in a French hospital I was airlifted back to the UK to begin the three month long recovery,” said Stedman.

A lot of people warned her that she needed to work out more than what she had been doing before the climb, but Stedman was not worried about her fitness.

She was more concerned about how her two-year-old back fracture would hold up underneath the stress of a heavy backpack.

Stedman said: “I thought that it might have been a problem as I was carrying a pretty heavy backpack, however I had no issues. My back was aching after a few days on the mountain, however my whole body was starting to feel it, so I don’t think it was anything to do with my break.

“The climb went really well, and I was lucky that I didn’t get many symptoms of altitude sickness, unlike most other people on the mountain.”

The third year was thrilled to overcome the strenuous feat and reach the top of the mountain on the morning of their fifth day climbing Kilimanjaro.

“Due to the air being very thin at high altitudes, it got harder and harder to breathe the higher we climbed up the mountain. On the last few nights even rolling over in bed would make me out of breath for a few minutes,” said Stedman.

“We reached the summit on the morning of our fifth day, after beginning the final assent, from 4,700 meters to 5,895 meters, at midnight the evening before.

“Climbing in the dark between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers up to the crater rim was one of the hardest parts of the climb, but knowing we were so close to the top really motivated us to carry on.”

The fractured back was not the only injury she had to take into account.

“I have two titanium rods that run though my bone marrow between my knee and ankle, and five screws in my right leg after breaking it whilst jumping on a trampoline.” “I managed to snap both of the bones in my leg and they then pierced through the skin and got stuck in the trampoline. It hurt.”

Despite the challenging seven day climb she was incredibly happy to make it to the top, but incredibly exhausted. “I was really pleased that I managed to make it to the summit, especially after a few injuries and I think my

“I was really pleased that I managed to make it to the summit, especially after a few injuries and I think my mum was too. It was very emotional, we were all so happy to have made it,” she said.

The array of injuries she has collected has still not put her off any more future adventures.

“Having managed to break bones in three different countries, I have perfected the art of insurance claims and navigating hospitals in foreign languages,” she explained.

She is no stranger to sticky situations, and predicts she will have many more mishaps in the future.

She said: “I am super unorganised when I go away, so going away with me usually involves delays due to missed planes, lost passports and purses, and forgetting to book hotels. I recently forgot my suitcase in Prague airport, and when I went back to get it, it was surrounded by armed police and a bomb disposal squad. Thankfully, everything ran smoothly during my trip to Kilimanjaro.”

Stedman has no new adventures planned at the moment, but said she would love to go to Iceland or Russia next time she booked herself a trip.

About Idha Valeur

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