Sibusiso started climbing in 1996 by summiting peaks in the Drakensberg. In 1999 he summited Kilimanjaro and went on to the Himalayas in 2002, successfully climbing Pokalde, Lobujé and Island Peak, all of which are over 6 000 metres high, as part of his training for the Everest expedition.
In March 2003, Sibusiso set off for the Himalayas again in his quest to be the first black African to summit the earth’s largest and most fearsome mountain, Everest, the Queen of the Himalayas. He summited successfully on 26 May 2003.
In 2005 Sibusiso reached the summit of Everest again with Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Alex Harris after accessing the peak from the North Ridge – the more difficult and statistically less-successful side. This achievement meant that he is the first black African to climb the world’s highest peak twice and by two different routes. Three children’s charities benefitted from his climb: The Birth to Twenty Research Programme at Wits University, the Africa Foundation and the SOS Children’s Village in Swaziland.
On that day, South African President Thabo Mbeki congratulated him on his achievement and grit. “In this, he has shown the heights we can all scale in life if we put our shoulder to the wheel and work at things without flagging. Sibusiso, you have done us proud!” (In 2006 Sibusiso was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (Bronze) by President Thabo Mbeki. Technically he can sign his name ‘Sibusiso Vilane, OIB’.)
Sibusiso is one of a handful of South Africans, and the first black African, to achieve the feat of climbing each of the Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents.
1. Kilimanjaro (Africa) 1999
2. Everest (Asia) 2003 and 2005
3. Aconcagua (South America) 2006
4. Elbrus (Europe) 2006
5. Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania) 2006
6. Vinson (Antarctica) 2006
7. Denali/McKinley (North America) 2008
On 17 January 2008, Sibusiso and his Team Extreme partner, Alex Harris, became the first South Africans to walk to the South Pole completely unassisted. In early 2012 Sibusiso completed the three poles ‘challenge’ when he trekked to the North Pole. (The Three Poles are the North Pole, the South Pole and Everest.)