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EXCLUSIVE The first black climber to reach the top of the world: “I don’t believe in the impossible”

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Born in 1970 in South Africa, Sibusiso Vilane is one of the very few climbers in the world who has managed to climb the seven highest peaks on the seven continents: Kilimanjaro (Africa) in 1999, Everest (Asia) in 2003 and 2005. , Aconcagua (South America) in 2006, Elbrus (Europe) in 2006, Puncak Jaya (Oceania) in 2006, Vinson (Antarctica) in 2006 and Denali / McKinley (North America) in 2008.

Expeditions for African children

Sibusiso moved with his family to Eswatini, Africa, when he was 11, and for a time worked as a goat laborer and shepherd. Then, in 1993, he joined a reservation as a ranger. Two years later, he met John Doble, a very passionate ascendant diplomat, who became his best friend and helped him raise the money for his first Everest expedition. Thus, on May 26, 2003, Sibusiso Vilane became the first person of color to reach Everest, through the southern part. In 2005, Vilane climbed Everest again, this time through the north, accompanied by the famous Ranulph Fiennes and Alex Harris. Not only was the expedition a success, but it also turned into a charity, raising money for three NGOs that help children in Africa.

His first ascent was at the age of 26 on Drakensberg Peak (3,482 meters) in South Africa. In 2006, he was decorated by President Thabo Mbeki with the Ikhamanga Order, one of the most important awards in South Africa. Sibusiso Vilane is one of the very few explorers in the world who reached both the South Pole in 2008 and the North Pole in 2012. In 2008, he recounted his ascents and challenges in “To the Top from Nowhere, a book that has enjoyed international success. In a special reception at Buckingham Palace in 2011, he was congratulated by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom for his outstanding performance as a climber and explorer.

“We can’t give up on dreams”

Sibusiso grew up in rural South Africa, so adventure was an unknown word to him. “Mountaineering was a sport I didn’t understand, like any other child of color. When I was 26, I accompanied John Doble on a short hike, and at one point he said, «No African has ever climbed Everest, but I think you have the natural ability to do that. ” Then John Doble asked me, “If you had all the resources to climb Everest, would you?” And I said yes. So this was the beginning of a fantastic experienceSibusiso Vilane told “Weekend Adevărul.

Sibusiso Vilane on Mount Denali in Alaska PHOTO: personal archive

It took seven years to reach Everest from the moment the idea was born. Neither he nor his friend knew where to start. The two also did not have the financial resources to climb other mountains in preparation. “It was a dream to reach Everest – and we can’t give up on dreams. I waited for that opportunity and when it came, I took advantage of itadded Sibusiso Vilane.

The valiant climber also revealed his feelings when he first reached Everest. “I was extremely excited and overwhelmed after climbing Everest for the first time in 2003. We were one step away from reaching the top because of the very bad weather and we had to go back twice when we were very close. Reaching Everest Peak was incredible, thinking about where I started in life and how I had practically reached the top of the world. It was a pride hard to describe in words. In 2005, when I climbed Everest again, I was inspired by a desire to do charity work. We have raised a significant amount of money that has been donated to children in Africa who need educational support. Reaching the highest peak in the world twice, on two different routes, is something extraordinaryconfessed Sibusiso Vilane.

He also says that the hardest part was raising sponsorships for the expeditions, but also the fact that he stayed away from home for almost three months.

The impossible does not exist

Sibusiso admits that mountaineering is something without which he would not see his future. “I feel full of energy and inspired to live my life when I’m on the mountain. Ascents make me feel positive and motivated about my own existence. Nothing gives me a higher dose of positivism than climbing a mountain, and it doesn’t have to be a very high mountain. I don’t believe in the impossible even when the resources you need to go on an expedition seem to make the goal impossible. And when I get on an expedition, I don’t see anything wrong with it, and I know it’s all up to me to do the impossible. Sometimes there are external factors that make your mission seem impossible, but with patience and determination, you can succeed.says the South African climber.

Sibusiso Vilane, one of the few climbers who managed to climb the seven highest peaks on the seven continents PHOTO: personal archive

Sibusiso Vilane also met a Romanian climber who made polar expeditions. They were both part of a group training for such adventures. It is about Cornel Galescu, who was preparing to go to the North Pole, while Sibusiso was going to start on the road to the South Pole. “Cornel Galescu is a very sociable and kind man, but, above all, a great climber. I was so impressed that I really wanted to join his expedition. I would definitely like to climb one of the mountains in Romania one day, I would be delighted. I know that the highest mountain in Romania is 2,544 meters. I don’t care how high or how high a mountain is, it’s just a joy to be thereconfesses Sibusiso.

The South African climber also says that he has a very high dose of self-motivation. “Never say something is impossible until you try it. Never underestimate the potential you have, never doubt yourself. You have unlimited potential. The impossible exists only in the mind. I remember Nelson Mandela’s words: «Something always seems impossible until it is done ». This is the strategy to succeed and overcome the impossibleis the advice of Sibusiso Vilane for those who do not believe in overcoming the impossible.

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