x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sisters are climbing it for themselves

Three Indian sisters have joined two other women in training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro together.

Melissa Lobo, Rhea Fernandes and Eva Fernandes have been training for Kilimanjaro by climbing the stairwell in the Musalla Tower.
Melissa Lobo, Rhea Fernandes and Eva Fernandes have been training for Kilimanjaro by climbing the stairwell in the Musalla Tower.

DUBAI // Eva Fernandes flatly rejected her sister's suggestion that they climb Mount Kilimanjaro. She was overweight and did not exercise at all.

"Despite knowing better I have led a typical, sedentary city life," said Eva, 23, a media professional from India. "The maximum exercise I get is walking from the metro to my office."

But when her sister Clea, a flight attendant and fitness enthusiast, told her many people including the BBC personality Chris Moyles had made it to the summit of Africa's tallest mountain, she thought, "why not I?"

Over the past six months Eva, Clea and their sister Rhea have joined two friends - Melissa Lobo from India and Kaye Gonsalves from Portugal - in cardio workouts.

The workouts include walking up 100 storeys a day with weighted backpacks.

The women have varying levels of fitness.

"I always liked adventures, from water sports to skydiving," said Clea, 27. "I was wondering how can I further put my body to the test. When you climb a mountain and reach the top, you would feel that you have achieved something."

But Eva says she is still the most hesitant.

"Everything worries me. I am the doubter of the group," she said. "I always ask, 'do you think we're prepared enough?' I have improved a lot since training, but I will be the slowest one going up."

On one of her flights, Clea met two men coming back from climbing Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, which is 5,895 metres above sea level.

"They talked about how it helped their friendship," she said.

The women, who are not sponsored, plan to make the climb on July 13.

"I'd like people to realise you don't have to wait for the perfect moment to do something," said Clea. "I am not the fittest person there is but I believe I can do it. People need to get out of their comfort zone."

aalhaddad@thenational.ae