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Peachland charitable adventure-seeker to climb new mountain

Mark Jennings-Bates has taken on a mountain of challenges over the years, competing in the Dakar rally, attempting to set a Guinness World Record for longest continuous flight by a powered paraglider and training for a 110-kilometre ultra-marathon in Guatemala.

Now he will take on an actual mountain.

Fourty-nine-year-old Jennings-Bates will head to Africa this January in an attempt to climb the highest peak on the continent and fly from the summit in a paraglider.

The Peachland thrill-seeker, who is known for his philanthropic exploits, will join 200 of the worlds best climbers, pilots and adventurers who are joining together in a project called Wings of Kilimanjaro.

"I'm very excited, but one of the things that (comes) into play is the fact that sometimes you can't control the results. Even if you're a very accomplished high altitude climber, there are often times that, for whatever reason, your body just rejects being up there," said Jennings-Bates.

It's been more than 15 years since Jennings-Bates has done much climbing, but prior to 1995 he frequently took on high elevations such as the Rocky Mountains and the Himilayas.

Typically it takes about four days to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, but it will take the expert climbers and pilots a bit longer on this trip.

"(Four days) is really too quick to get to 20,000 feet…the pilots need to acclimatize because we need to have our heads about us when we launch."

According to Jennings-Bates, the project idea was conceived by Australian entrepreneur Adrian McRae who has been working with the Tanzanian government to orchestrate the first legal flight from the summit.

Part of the agreement includes a program of poverty reduction in the host country of Tanzania; Wings of Kilimanjaro is expected to raise over $1 million for charity partners Plant with Purpose and ONE Difference.

This will mark the first time Jennings-Bates has attempted a challenge fundraiser to raise money for a charity other than his own: Rally4Life.

The official climb will begin in the last few days of January, 2013. The summit flight will likely take place in the first week of February.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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