An amateur mountaineer scaled Europe’s tallest mountain in a day – just a few days after being given the all-clear from Covid-19.
Akke Rahman, an office manager from Oldham, climbed Mount Elbrus last week, finally making it to the top at the second attempt in a whirlwind trip to Russia which lasted only a few days thanks to a rapidly expiring visa.
He told PA: “Slowly it’s just starting to sink in, the accomplishment – what I’ve done and how people will look at it.”
The 38-year-old, a former amateur athlete, only took up mountaineering last year as a way to improve his fitness after seeing it fall away as he grew older.
He said: “One day I just thought I need to do something to change my life and leave a legacy for my kids and inspire people to get fit, because a lot of the Asian community, they’re not really very active.”
He started by scaling Mount Snowdon in Wales last June, vowing that if he enjoyed it he would then go on to tackle Elbrus.
“It was probably the hardest climb of my life, only 1,000m up Snowdon,” he said.
“But I loved it and I came back and I booked the Elbrus expedition two or three days later.”
He initially attempted to climb Elbrus last September, but had to abandon partway through because of adverse weather.
He booked again earlier this year but his attempts to reach Russia were repeatedly scuppered by restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, confusion over travel arrangements and finally, last month, his own positive Covid test.
Thankfully, his symptoms were minor and he was able to continue training in his home gym.
“I was still running 10k in 50 minutes which is kind of slow for me, but given the circumstances I was happy with that,” he said.
After two negative tests he was finally able to fly to Russia, but the repeated delays meant that when he arrived in the country last week, he only had three days left on his visa.
It meant that he had to complete the hike, which normally takes several days, in no more than two.
He felt confident he would be able to achieve the feat, having recently scaled both Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro and found he was not strongly affected by the altitude.
In the end, Mr Rahman said he only needed one day to climb Ebrus, setting off at around 11am on Thursday – five days after being given the all-clear from Covid – and reaching the summit at around 9am on Friday.
“We just went for it and that was it,” he said. “We just walked and walked and walked and walked.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy because I’m not acclimatised.
“It is steep climbing but the main thing is that the altitude is what really gets to you because you’re so high.”
In an Instagram post about the trek, Up The Mountain, the expedition company that facilitated his walk, wrote: “Even well-trained people have no good results with Elbrus summit, and successful attempts with such short time acclimatization are very rare.
“We congratulate Aklakur with this great personal victory!”
Mr Rahman, who describes himself as the Bengali Mountaineer, said he was keen to inspire people to get fit and to step outside of cultural norms.
“There’s not many Bengali mountaineers around,” he said. “It’s frowned upon.
“My mum’s the hardest person to convince, she just says ‘Asians don’t do mountaineering’.
“I just wanted to fight back against that and tell them ‘it can be done’.”
Mr Elbrus is raising money for the Global Relief Trust, to support its efforts in Lebanon following the explosion in Lebanon that killed more than 200 people earlier this year.
To donate go to https://www.givebrite.com/mount-elbrus-climb