He lost four toe nails, bled through his boots, dislocated his knee, and thought his one-and only lung was going to collapse, but Adam Faatz made it.

He made it to the summit of the world's tallest free-standing mountain – Mt Kilimanjaro.

The former army soldier, with barely one functioning lung due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), successfully scaled the African mountain in January to raise money for charity, and awareness of respiratory diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of people.

“It was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life,” Faatz says of the 19,341-foot mountain climb.

Faatz says the most difficult leg of the hike came as he left the campsite at 15,250 feet — a height that is one and a quarter times that of Mt Cook — to make his last push toward the summit, known as Uhuru Peak.

He departed in the middle of the night on day eight, reaching the mountaintop at sunrise.

That's when “everything finally came together” and he felt a great sense of accomplishment.

“The feeling was almost indescribable. To do something no one else has ever done – it was so overwhelming.”

Faatz is referring to the world record he now holds, being the first person with IPF to successfully climb Mt Kilimanjaro.

He describes the descent as “the worst thing I’ve ever experienced”.

He got terrible altitude sickness, in addition to losing four toe nails and dislocating his knee. He was forced to descend quickly as his oxygen levels were worryingly low.

But it was worth every second of discomfort, as his primary purpose was to raise awareness of a rare respiratory condition – and he feels he achieved that, he says.

“I made a promise to turn IPF into a household name and I really feel like I’m on track to do that.”

This September, Faatz will visit New Zealand to walk Te Araroa raising funds for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ.

Have you read

View all