A PONTYPOOL teacher has scaled Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the British Red Cross.

Nia Jones, a geography teacher at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw based in Trevethin, climbed the highest free-standing mountain in the world, reaching the summit on New Year’s Day. The 26-year-old began her six day trek on December 28 and had to battle freezing temperatures in her 5895m climb to the top in Tanzania.

She said: “It was my idea. I wanted a challenge and contacted some friends to see if they wanted to take part.

“The first four days were fine but the last two were very long. We had to walk over six hours in the complete darkness with temperatures of -14C. It was harder than I expected.”

Miss Jones, who has been a teacher at the Welsh secondary school for a year, has raised £3,650 for the British Red Cross through donations and a cake sale at the school.

She added: “Everyone has been really generous and donated money. My two friends raised money for Air Ambulance.

“I wanted to raise the money for the British Red Cross because my nan supported them before she passed away. I have done a lot of travelling to Thailand after the tsunami and I was in New Zealand when the earthquake happened a few years ago so I saw first-hand the work that they do.”

The three friends were in a group of 24 people who camped on the mountain and had local guides who helped navigated the path.

She said: “It was great when we reached the top. The whole group was quite emotional.

“I was really happy some people were crying.”

She added: “I’m still recovering from the trip. I don’t think I will be doing that again any time soon.”