Catwalk queens swap the runway for the mountain in charity climb

Four Irish catwalk queens have told how they felt on top of the world when they made the agonising slog to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Former Miss Universe Ireland Rozanna Purcell has told of her joy at reaching the summit of the 19,300ft peak at the end of a six-hour trek and eight gruelling days.

With oxygen levels half of those at sea level and temperatures of -25C, Roz, Daniella Moyles, Lynn Kelly, and Emily McKeogh battled through a mountain of mishaps, including a broken toe, inflamed knees, lacerated fingers, debilitating altitude sickness, and sheer exhaustion to scale the Tanzanian peak in a TV3 documentary.

The girls formed part of the Catwalk To Kilimanjaro team which was filmed taking the Whiskey Route up the mountain to raise funds for the Make a Wish Foundation.

Roz said the thought of the sick children in the foundation spurred her on during the last painful hours. “We were all so happy we all made it together because a lot of people didn’t think we were going to do it.

“The odds are one in six people don’t make it, so we thought one of us wasn’t going to make it.

“It was really tough because the air was so thin up there. It was definitely one of the hardest days of my life but I remember thinking the children we were doing it for had to go through this pain every day. I only had it for a few hours so I had to get on with things.”

The models, who raised over €10,000 for the charity, trekked an average of 9 hours a day in freezing temperatures while carrying a 10kg backpack.

Daniella told how she felt unable to take another step at the start of the journey last September due to a bout of severe altitude sickness. “Altitude sickness is horrific. It’s this incessant nausea and uneasing migraine to the point that your eyes are sore. I got full-blown altitude sickness.”

Emily went though agony when her knees inflamed in the first few days of the climb. “There was fluid in my knee that had built up from the constantly grinding. One day I just collapsed to my knees.”

Lynn, meanwhile, broke her big toe on her way up the mountain. “As we were trekking along we were constantly jumping up and down from rocks and I really stubbed my toe when I landed on one rock. I took my shoe off and my big toenail completely lifted off. It was so, so painful but I just kind of strapped it on and continued on walking.”

Daniella said they will be joined by former Miss Ireland Holly Carpenter for their next climb in the Himalayas.

* Catwalk to Kilimanjaro will be shown on TV3 at 11.50pm tonight.


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