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Kilimanjaro no worries for teen

GILL ALCOCK
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2012
Mt Kilimanjaro

MADE IT: Father and son team Brendon and Max Bainbridge at the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.

Max Bainbridge
BACK HOME: Waiheke teen Max Bainbridge, 13, is looking for his next challenge.

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A 13-year-old may be the youngest Kiwi to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.

Onetangi resident Max Bainbridge was offered a trip of a lifetime for his 13th birthday by his father Brendon.

He picked Africa, hoping for a safari. His father agreed but added a twist. How did Max fancy climbing one of the world's seven highest peaks?

Max and his father had enjoyed a few hikes together before but nothing on this scale, yet he still agreed.

They spent a night in Erbegan at the base of the mountain before starting the eight-day climb on September 24 using guides and porters.

The wildlife and trees disappeared below them after three days.

"It looked like a lunar landscape," Max says.

The pair and fellow climbers used existing camps each night. They had a bowl of hot water to wash off the layers of dust that comes off the scree. A highlight was a cup of Milo for breakfast every morning.

Max says the ascent was hard "but in different ways than you might imagine".

"It was very cold and very high. On the fifth day we were like ‘we can't do this' and for the last three days it was hard to breathe."

He threw up and suffered dehydration on the last push to the top.

"We went to bed at 5pm, started the final ascent at 10.30pm and got to the top about 8am. We were going so incredibly slowly you could crawl faster."

The peak wasn't quite how Max imagined it would be.

"I was looking forward to old wooden signs and was disappointed by the green ones."

Max describes the achievement as "the biggest challenge of my life" but didn't realise how hard it would be. He hasn't been turned off.

He has now applied to do the Duke of Edinburgh award at Takapuna Grammar School where he is a pupil and has other treks in his sights like Machu Picchu.

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