ELATED Gemma Askew felt on top of the world after she conquered one of the highest mountains in the world.
The Hartlepool 20-year-old overcame exhaustion to successfully scale Mount Kilimanjaro in east Africa for charity.
After five days of climbing through increasingly high altitudes and freezing temperatures, she was rewarded with stunning views from the summit.
Gemma raised £2,460 for UK charity Childreach International, which helps children in developing countries across the world.
She completed the climb with around 30 fellow students from York University, where she is in her third year, who were all doing it for the same cause.
At 19,000ft, Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
The final day of climbing saw them take eight hours to get to the top, before turning around and starting their descent.
Gemma, from the Elwick Road area of town, said: “Summit day was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I climbed from midnight to 6pm the next day on just two hours sleep.”
She added: “I was absolutely exhausted. Our water packs had frozen and it was really hard.
“Getting to the summit was amazing. It was just beautiful and a really nice feeling.”
The following morning the party then made their way back down before being given a memorable send off by the team of porters and guides who helped them along the way.
Gemma, who lives with parents Alan, 51, and Olwyn, 45, of Belmont Gardens, Hartlepool, said: “They did a big dance for us which was amazing.
“They were all really happy even though they were carrying all our stuff. We were all knackered. I don’t know how they did it.”
Looking back on the experience she said: “It was hard at times, but there was always people who would keep your spirits up.
“The supporters, guides and everyone was generally really happy,
“I would like to say thank you to everyone who donated and sponsored me. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support.”
The money she and the others raised will go towards providing education, health care and protection for children in Tanzania.
Gemma, who has two brothers Craig, 18, and Jamie, 13, and a sister Gail, 22, is studying social work at university.