Thursday, February 21, 2008

Baldwins At the Top Of the World

Here is how the story goes. My father has always wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. He has been talking about it for as long as I can remember. I remember him saying things like,

“The mountain is so high that when you are at the top and the sun is setting, the shadow cast by the mountain reaches the horizon.”


“When you are at near the top of the mountain, you can see the curvature of the earth.”

These statements always held great weight and mystery for me and I imagined this mountain as a force, exerting gravity and creating wisdom in all who experience it.

So this Christmas my stepmother surprised my father with a trip to the Tanzania and a climb to the top of the mighty mountain. My dad was elated. Finally, at 58 years old he would be embarking on a life changing journey across continents to the top of the largest free standing mountain in the world and the highest point in Africa.

One night after Christmas, my dad was talking with my brother and he mentioned that this event was going to take place. My brother thought to himself,

“I have nothing else to do,” and asked my dad, “Can I come?”

So, February 11th, father and son left New Jersey and flew to London, Nairobi and finally to Tanzania where they realized that the huge group of people that had flown in with them were actually embarking on the safari, not the climb and that they were two of a group of three journeying to the summit. Actually, the group is 6 or seven with porters and a guide making up the rest of the group.

Last night, at midnight EST, they begin the push to the summit in what the guide said was some of the worst conditions he had ever been in. Other groups turned around and headed back down the mountain. Unsurprisingly the Baldwin boys refused to turn back and forced their way up to the summit in 25 mile an hour winds. At one point, my father started turning yellow and started to see colors. My brother, knowing my father was in trouble, stopped the guide. The decision was made that they would try for the summit as quickly as possible, take pictures and get back down as soon as possible. (Incidentally, the porters have dubbed my brother “Strong One” in Swahili and my father has been dubbed “Wise One”). But they made it to the top. They looked down over Africa from 19, 000 feet. I am sure it changed their life.

They are resting now at a lower altitude. Everyone is fine and they will begin the journey back down to sea level tomorrow.


qemuel said...

I cannot express how awesome it is that your father did this. Kudos!

jinni said...

Wow,must have been an awesome trip.Glad they love the motherland!