The mountaineering mum

Samantha Dobson, is climbing Ras Dashen in Ethiopia for charity


Is this your first climb?
I’m a Kiwi. I spent my childhood on ‘character building’ hikes up mountains. I guess you could say that mountains are in my blood. My great, great uncle Arthur was a mountaineer and pioneer – he discovered Arthur’s Pass, the only pass through the Southern Alps of New Zealand. He’d set off for months on end, wearing a bow tie, jamming nails into his boots to cross glaciers and lowering his dog down steep ravines by rope. At least I’ll have Goretex and antibacterial wipes.

Why are you doing it?
In my twenties I worked as a journalist in Africa covering my fair share of the hot spots and war zones. One of my last assignments was life-altering – and is one of the reasons I’m doing this. I reported on the famine in Southern Sudan in 1998, staying in the Médecins sans Frontières feeding camp where, at the time, more than 200 people, mainly children, were dying of starvation every day. It was a kind of hell – hot and dusty and full of flies and disease. It still haunts me. I know I can’t change the world but it’s the small steps that can make a difference.

How did you get involved?
I’ve always kept an eye on the Gulf for Good challenges. I love the idea of pushing my physical boundaries and at the same time benefiting someone less fortunate. Ethiopia is a country I’ve always been drawn to; it’s off the beaten track, the scenery is stunning and the people are so dignified – perhaps because it is the only country in Africa not to have been colonised.

How are you training for it?
I’m a runner so I’ve been cranking up the treadmill and climbing hotel stairs and doing some pretty heavy weights at the gym to get some mountain muscles in my legs. Physically, once in Ethiopia the trick will be to slow down. We summit Ras Dashen on day six and it’s at an altitude of 4,600m. I can train for fitness but there’s no training for altitude sickness.

What do your kids think of your plan?
I couldn’t do it without their support. For this trip they’ve picked oranges, run a flea market, and my son’s under-10 rugby team ran the 72km relay race up Wadi Bih. My husband and I feel that it’s important for our children to see the world, warts and all, so we travel when we can. It can be a struggle trying to bring up non-materialistic children in Dubai. To instill the values we feel are important we’ve always involved our kids in charity events.
Every little counts! Contact Gulf for Good or Samantha directly on

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