Kilimanjaro Trip with Earth's Edge

How to cope if you’re sick on Kilimanjaro

Earth's Edge Podcast

Micheál Penston worked in Earth’s Edge headquarters from 2016-2018. Micheál has a fascinating life story, changing careers twice before finding his true passion working as a personal trainer. In the latest episode of our podcast, we chat all about his journey, the tumultuous expedition when he was sick on Kilimanjaro, and his early years in Wicklow. Here’s a sneak peak…

Growing up in Wicklow

“I had a pretty cool childhood. I’m the oldest, and had 7 years on my own before my sister Mairead came around. My parents probably needed that to get over me! We were always surrounded by nature. My grandfather had a big influence on my life, getting me outdoors.”

Figuring out a path

“As a kid, I wasn’t big into fitness. I was a bit of an overweight kid, believe it or not. I got picked on a little bit when I was really young. I played a bit of football, a bit of GAA. It only became more of an outlet when I got older, more so for de-stressing.

There’s a lot of pressure put on you when you’re 16 or 17, to think about your future. To invest fully in one path. But you don’t know. You haven’t been out in the world and seen it and experienced it yet. Or to realise what your values are.

When I came out of college I worked for a year in manufacturing. It was a great baptism of fire, to be out in the working world. Then the opportunity to travel came up, and that was the theme of my twenties. I was supposed to go to New Zealand for six months and ended up there for three years.”

kilimanjaro climb

How he coped getting sick on Kilimanjaro

“The expedition was one of the best 10 days of my life. It was unreal. Not just the trip itself, but also the people that you meet out there, from porters to the guides. It was amazing. I couldn’t recommend it enough. It was fantastic, but also not so fantastic when it came to my own food choices! I got food poisoning on the mountain. It was the first few days. I look back on it and though the food poisoning was miserable, it was probably one of the most profound moments I’ve had in a long time.

I’d eaten something dodgy before we had headed off, and I remember heading up to the gate on day one and wasn’t 100%. You know when something feels dodgy, and you feel the sweats coming on? It went downhill from there. I spent the first day puking, and for the first two days I was just running on fumes. But the beauty of having the doctor and the porters on the trip made it so much better. I’d built it up so much and I just really wanted to get to the other side, and get up the mountain. In my mind, I had set the goal. The doctor was great, he gave me a little jab and at least that plugged one end! Without that, I would have really struggled.

By the third day, I managed to eat something. I think it was the day going up the Barranco Wall, I felt better, and was getting stronger. It was brilliant having the support team there. They’ve seen it all. Having the doctor there just gives you the reassurance that if something does go awry, that it’s all under control.”

You can hear all about Micheál’s experiences on the podcast here.

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