Monday, September 22, 2014

My Dad Climbed Kilimanjaro

Last month, my dad and a crew of 12 other guys climbed Kilimanjaro. He posted this on facebook last week and I wanted to share it with you. I'm so proud of him and so moved by his endurance on this trip. I'll let him explain...

POLE POLE, is Swahili for “gradually”, “easy does it”. At 2 AM Friday morning we had been hiking two hours up from the Barafu Camp where we had four hours of sleep before setting off at midnight and stopped thinking about how I was able to continue. This was day two of the worst lower intestinal illness I have ever had. Barely able to even hydrate, let alone eat, I was lucky to be drinking one third of the 3 liters of water I should have been drinking. I could not fathom the idea of eating, so I forced down bites of peanut butter sandwich and energy bars. Hardly matching the calories I was burning. Yet my legs felt strong as long as I followed the mantra of Pole Pole. And I knew that I had to bring Ken to the top. 
Ken is a friend who died several months ago, accidentally careening his truck into a river in Northern California. He was a fellow adventurer who knew the Sierra Nevada Mountains like the back of his hand. We had been friends since our early teens. We were together when he met his future wife. We watched our families grow. We rafted down rivers in Alaska together with our friend Jim. He ran with the bulls with me in Pamplona. Ken wanted a party to celebrate his life and we said fine things about Ken. Many fine things. But I wanted to give Ken a parting gift. I was able to find a somewhat recent photo of my friend, stuck his mug on an 8.5 by 11 piece of foam board and carried this memento in my backpack for seven days, ultimately to the top of Kilimanjaro. 
This recent trip was beset with logistical difficulties even if everything went according to plan. But El Al Airlines did it’s best to screw me over (more stories on this later) and Turkish Air cancelled a key leg, failing to let me know they had cancelled and rescheduling me, and the booking agency Vayama also failed to advise me. Yet I ultimate arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport, albeit a little more battered and bruised than planned. 
I sat in the lounge at the Mountain Lodge in Arusha the Sunday morning after returning from the climb and reflected on the logistical problems solved, the physical difficulty of the climb, and the spiritual realizations I had experienced on this most bizarre of trips. The first realization was being overwhelmed as I went through Hortus Gethsemane beneath Jerusalem, which especially surprised me as I never considered myself particularly religious. The second being how I managed to climb in roughly an eight hour stretch 1,800 meters in elevation to the top of the Roof of Africa at 5,895 meters (about 19,400 feet), while being sick as a dog, dehydrated and barely an extra calorie to burn. Asante, Ken. Asante Sana. 
And thanks to the twelve members of our climbing team and our guides.

We were kept updated on all of his trials along the way - being stranded in Newark when the plane left without him, a cancelled flight out of Istanbul, closed gates when he finally arrived at the lodge in the wee hours of the morning, and finally beginning his trek with little time to adjust to actually being in Africa. With the encouragement of the rest of the crew, they were able to "boogie" their way up to the Roof of Africa - taking along a friend who would never be able to make the trip himself. 

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