Mountaineers Alda Waddell and Tumi Mphahlele are not only aiming to prove that two women can take on the highest peak in each of SA’s provinces, but they are doing this as a warm-up to Everest in 2020.
Starting on 22 August, the two members of the first all-women team from Africa will cover 141km of hiking, 7,888m of vertical ascent, and 5,298km of driving.
The 9 Peaks Challenge involves the ascent of the highest point of each province in South Africa, with strict adherence to set rules to successfully challenge a category record.
The clock starts at the foot of the first peak and ends on the summit of the last. The ‘fastest known time for a female team’ category is unchallenged, and mountaineers Alda Waddell and Tumi Mphahlele plan to set the precedent.
The fastest time by a mixed pair was set in October 2018 by Jurgens and Christel Hanekom in 4 days, 18 hours, and 45 minutes.
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So which peaks are they tackling?
- The peaks are Iron Crown (2,126m) near Haenertsburg in Limpopo
- De Berg (2,331m) near Lydenburg in Mpumalanga
- Seweweekspoort Peak (2,325m) in the Groot Swartberg Nature Reserve in the Western Cape
- Nooigedacht (1,816m), the highest point of the Magaliesberg in North West
- Mafadi (3,451m) the highest peak in South Africa in the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal
- Toringkop (1,913m) in Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Gauteng
- Kwaduma (3,019m) in the Drakensberg in the Eastern Cape
- Namahadi (3,291m) in the Drakensberg in the Free State
- Murch Point (2,156m) in the Karoo in the Northern Cape.
The two intrepid women, who together with Lisa Gering and Deshun Deysel, all four from Johannesburg, are preparing to summit Everest in April and May 2020 to fulfil their dreams and to inspire young women entrepreneurs to have the ‘courage to start and the strength to endure’ – the motto of the Everest expedition.
Alda, who works for BMW SA and is a mother of 17-year-old twins says doing the 9 Peaks Challenge is in preparation of the #Everest2020 challenge.
“It’s not an easy challenge and it is in many ways forcing Tumi and me to be focused and super fit. It’s also exciting as this is probably one of the best South African mountaineering challenges for endurance we can participate in.
"This Challenge will test our mental tenacity and physical endurance that we will need next year with the long days and nights in extreme cold weather. Endurance is what gets you to the top – just putting one foot in front of the other.”
Tumi, director at IG3N and Amperion Energy, is a recreational endurance athlete with a keen interest in mountain sports.
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She has successfully climbed three of the seven global summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus and Mt. Aconcagua – and has ambitions to complete the rest over the next few years. She has also summited other mountain peaks of varying altitudes in Africa and South America. She says that the idea of being the first all-women team from Africa to summit Everest gives her goosebumps.
“It will be a dream come true. While I respect the mountains and recognise the risk and dangers associated with climbing Mount Everest, I do think that the success for the team and for the continent is worth the risk.”
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