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Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Thursday, 6 January 2011
Kilimanjaro altitude test for the BBC's Lesley Dolphin
Elephants in Kenya near Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park in Kenya on the border with Tanzania

BBC Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin is admitting to anxiety about whether she'll be one of the unlucky ones who get altitude sickness in Africa.

She is taking part in a charity climb up Mount Kilimanjaro starting on Friday, 7 January, 2011.

"They don't tell you how bad it is and I won't know if I suffer from it until I try it," said Lesley.

She is part of a team of 14 people who are raising money for the EACH Treehouse Appeal .

Kilimanjaro is on the Kenya/Tanzania border and its ice-covered peak is at 5,895m.

It is considered to be the highest 'walkable' mountain in the world and has become a regular trip for fundraisers including the BBC's Comic Relief celebrities who did the Big Red Nose Climb in 2009.

Lesley Dolphin and Kilimanjaro team
Lesley (far right) and some of her team climb the BBC Suffolk front steps

The EACH Treehouse Appeal mountain team was set up by Ipswich businessman Steve Flory.

He has previously been on fundraising trips for other charities to the Mount Everest base camp and to the Arctic to build and sleep in an igloo.

Steve said: "The Everest base camp is 5,300m [Everest's peak is 8,850m] so conditions up Kilimanjaro are pretty similar - grim with a glacier-type top to it.

"The Arctic was just cold and it does teach you to sleep in cold conditions."

Lesley Dolphin said:

"You start at the bottom and it's hot Africa, but you end up not only walking in the cold, but eating and sleeping in the cold, so our last night could be anything down to -20C.

"I've never experienced sleeping in really cold temperatures.

"I would say the night we spent standing in Rendlesham Forest for the UFO 30th anniversary event was probably the coldest, and I think that was -8C.

"Just standing around in that made me appreciate just how cold it's going to get.

Porters will be carrying the team's main bags, while each person carries their own day bag which will include a couple of litres of water, sat phone, wet weather clothing, snacks, camera and other personal items.

Steve Flory at Everest basecamp
Steve Flory at 5,000 feet on his Everest basecamp trip

Altitude sickness

Fitness will determine whether an individual can cope with the walking, but reaction to altitude could be the random element.

Lesley said: "From what I gather the altitude is the biggest problem and it can make you pretty poorly with headaches and vomiting.

"Even on day two of the trek [reaching 3,600m], some people start to feel really ill and you have to be brought down from the mountain.

"Look at Martina Navtratilova. She had to come down on day four and how fit is she?"

Steve Flory, with his experience of altitude in the Himilayas, suspects fitness has nothing to do with it.

He said: "You could get sick one week and not the next. It's just not that predictable.

"They reckon around 15-20% of people suffer from it and there's 14 of us on this trip so there's a chance we won't all get there."

Lesley Dolphin on BBC Look East

Fear of failure

A fear of not getting to the summit is an issue for the group members, because the guides will decide whether to take you back down again if you are ill.

Lesley Dophin said: "I think all of us feel a bit scared, because we've done eight months of getting fit in the UK.

"All you can do is your very best and think about what a fantastic cause we'll have raised money for."

The team is trying to reach a target of £30,000 for the Treehouse Appeal via the Just Giving website.

Lesley will be giving regular updates from Kilimanjaro via her satellite phone on the BBC Suffolk Mark Murphy programme .

Donate now

To give money directly to the Treehouse Appeal, please send a cheque made payable to "EACH Treehouse Appeal" to:

EACH Treehouse Appeal, Epsilon House, West Road, Ipswich, IP3 9FJ

The appeal donation line number is 01473 276116.

Donate online at EACH Treehouse Appeal .

However, this method won't donate directly to the Kilimanjaro team's fundraising total. Use the Just Giving link at the top of this feature for that.

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