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Posted on: 12 April 2012

Ateeq Salik, a paralegal at Silverdale Solicitors, has spoken of his terror as he climbed one of the world’s highest mountains, but was forced to turn back near the peak because of a deadly blizzard.

Ateeq Salik, along with fellow trekkers were agonisingly close to the 5,900m-high summit of Kilimanjaro when they were forced to turn back just 395 metres from the top when hazardous snowfall struck, with temperatures dropping to minus 15.

It later emerged three other Climbers from a different party died on the same night. His group still managed to raise £110,000 for Islamic Relief’s Water for Life Appeal.

Ateeq ,22, who has also scaled Mt Everest Base camp, and Mount Toubkal, as well as the 3 peaks challenge said : “The Trek was unlike any I had experienced before, you are living in really basic conditions. We ate 3 small meals a day of soup sandwiches and rice, and stayed at night in tents. The Mountain is such that you experience 4 seasons as you climb it. It starts in the cool rainforest, which then leads into the clouds and into rocky terrain. From here we walked through the hot desert, and finally on summit day experiencing freezing temperatures and snow. In the end it was a life or death situation and the scariest of my life. But it was still an amazing, unbelievable experience and I will go again”.

“The night before we attempted to conquer the summit was unbelievable. the oxygen level was very low and some of our team felt very ill. and developed severe mountain sickness. we had camped at 4,600 metres and started our 1,300-metre trek to the summit at midnight. It started snowing and then it was a full blizzard. the temperature dropped to minus 15 and it was so cold that my water had frozen solid.” the team carried on “at a snail’s pace” but then, at 4am, and less than 400 metres from their destination, the team leader decided to turn back. “we were only 395 metres from the top, but it was the right decision,” Ateeq said. “we found out when we got back that three other climbers had died that night. It was the scariest moment of my life. there were lots of loose rocks (as we descended) and you could put a foot in one of them at any point and fall.” Ateeq attempted the gruelling climb in aid of the Islamic Relief water for Life project, which helps drought victims in Kenya.