March 4, 2020

You would never know Karen Forbes is scared of heights. The Gym Glenelg…

You would never know Karen Forbes is scared of heights.

The Gym Glenelg member has trekked to Base Camp at Mt Everest, completed an intense mountaineering course in New Zealand, crossed a narrow ridge in the snowy peaks, and pulled herself up a vertical ice face in the cold winds.

On October 19, she will add to that list by abseiling down the side of Westpac House in Adelaide – the tallest structure in South Australia measuring 132m in height.

But this time, it is for a good cause.

Karen is raising money for Anglicare SA, which provides a range of support services for disadvantaged residents, including those experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, financial difficulties, severe grief and loss.

It also specialises in foster care, early learning, autistic and disability support, mental health, meal services, employment opportunities, assistance for the elderly and so much more.

The inaugural fundraiser will see almost 150 people sail down the side of Westpac House to raise much-needed funds and awareness for the organisation.

Karen, who has has a personal connection to the charity, having previously worked for Shelter SA and National Shelter, is aiming to raise $850. She needs $386 to reach her target.

Karen said she was a little nervous, but was looking forward to the challenge.

“Everest is a wide path so it feels a little different, it’s not as scary,” Karen said.

“But when I went to New Zealand to do a mountaineering course in January, I found that when I walked along a ridge in the wind, it was terrifying because it was so steep.

“I also climbed a vertical ice face, which I loved. But when I reached the top – I was the first one up there – the guide got there next and started taking photos near the ledge.

“I was standing about 3m back and I kept saying ‘no, no, no, I can’t look down there’.

“I think it’s the coming down part and the looking down that scares me. I get butterflies every time. So doing this fundraiser was also a way to conquer my fear of heights.”

About $90,000 has been raised to date for the fundraiser, which is on October 18 and 19.

The Gym Glenelg personal trainer Jimmy Smith is also participating. The pair has previously done a stint together in Everest and Karen is a regular training client of Jimmy’s at The Gym.

Karen said she “roped him in” as she thought it was a great way to raise money – and she didn’t want to tackle the descent on her own.

“Abseiling is a really innovative way of raising money,” Karen said.

“I’ve noticed a lot recently that there is a lot of demand and pressure for where our money goes with so many fundraisers and charities around nowadays.

“So I think doing things that are out of the ordinary, such as abseiling, is a fantastic idea.

“It also raises awareness because people look up and go ‘what’s going on’?”

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