Just before sunrise on 24 May, Kosta Papageorgiou summited Lions Head Mountain in Cape Town for the 250th time since 11 September 2017, reaching the half way mark of an inspiring goal to complete 500 summits by the end of 2018 for the Lion 500 Fund Raising Challenge.
Kosta has been climbing Lions Head Mountain daily, and sometimes even two or three times a day -braving extreme heat, rain showers, thick mist and slippery trails – in support of the Lion 500 Fund Raising Challenge. And for his milestone 250th summit, he was surrounded by supporters, friends and some of Cape town’s most experienced hikers, to make a positive difference and to remember fallen fellow hiker, Jennifer Harlow.
Another 250 summits lie ahead, begging the question: “What motivates Kosta and his supporters?”
“I used to climb the mountain frequently, just for the love of it,” says Kosta, who is a Cape Town tour guide and hosts teambuilding for corporate companies. “However, after I lost a friend to suicide caused by depression, and another very dear friend of mine survived rape, I felt very helpless. Being in nature seemed to ease the pain. I began to feel as if I were avenging my friends by climbing the mountain and reaching the top in their honour. Then I started to think about how I could make a positive difference, bringing hope and inspiration to others who face similar ordeals as my friends did. And that is how the Lion 500 Fund Raising Challenge was born.
“I started with two causes, Rape Crisis and South African Depression and Anxiety Organisation, to honour my friends and the many others dealing with depression and rape. Spending so much time on the mountain, I became friends with Volunteer Mountain Rescue members, so I added Wilderness Search and Rescue to help raise funds for the gear and equipment they need to save more lives.
“Spending so much time in nature also made me realise us humans are not alone: we share our world with animals, from man’s best friend – like my loyal and loving dog Tina – to the few ancient rhinos that remain, a precious natural heritage we must protect from extinction. For these reasons, I also included Fallen Angels Pet Rescue, which recues, treats and re-homes dogs and cats, and Chipembere Rhino Foundation, which specialises in funding technology for effective rhino monitoring; tracking and apprehension rhino dogs; and vital equipment for anti-poaching teams.”
Fueled by these passions, the next milestone – the 300th summit – will be celebrated in Spartan style as hikers will dress up as Spartan warriors to ascend the mountain. The 500th and final summit, scheduled for end December 2018, will be the biggest and most exciting, as the public is invited to join on a mass hike up Lions Head Mountain, dressed as superheroes to symbolise the idea that everyone can be a hero and help make the world better. Kosta believes it could be the biggest group of hikers to ever ascend Lions Head, cleaning up as they hike, leaving the mountain cleaner than ever.
“All hikers are invited to join me on this epic Lion 500 journey by simply by donating to the Lion 500 fund and meeting me at the start of the Lions Head Mountain trail,” says Kosta. “You can also show your support by following us on the Lion 500 Facebook page and the Lion 500 Instagram (@thelion500) page and by helping us raise R500,000 at our backabuddy page at https://www.backabuddy.co.za/lion-500-challenge. We look forward to having your support as we climb the mountain for those who are dealing with depression and anxiety and who have survived rape, for those who volunteer to save lives on the mountain, and for the animals we can help protect.”