“Why would you want to climb Mount Kenya?” One friend asked.
“I didn’t know you are a mountaineer,” another said, and I responded that I wasn’t.
“So, why would you do that?” She prodded. “Is it for charity?”
“I want to reach the summit,” I said. “That simple.”
There was no material objective to climb the mountain except for the sheer adventure of it, the challenge of scaling its heights, the dream of reaching the peak. That possibility now faced me, and I was just as anxious as I was thrilled. It was going to be like nothing I’ve ever done before.
About mountain climbing I knew no more than this much – I would need to be thoroughly prepared both physically and psychologically. And unlike the hikes I take alone, or my regular morning jogs, I knew that successful mountain climbing is fundamentally a matter of teamwork. I needed the company of other people to ascend to the summit.
I called my good friend Waswa, founder and director of an experiential training outfit based in Nairobi. Waswa has climbed Mt. Kenya severally, as well as Mt. Kilimanjaro, and others in Canada and Europe.
“Will you be climbing Mount Kenya around September,” I asked, “and could I join in?”
Since it was in the month of March, I figured that I required about six months to prepare adequately and acquire the necessary gear.
“I am planning for trek later in the year,” Waswa replied with his usual exuberance. “May I get back to you in a few days?”
He called back, sooner than I had expected.
“I have a team coming from Canada. They want to climb Mount Kenya at the end of April.”
“Do you mean end of next month?”
“Right! There’s an opening and I am reserving it for you!”
The date was only a few weeks away, far short of the six months I felt I needed for sufficient preparation. Can I pull everything together within such a short time?
Sensing my hesitation, he said, “I know the time is short, but I also know you can do it. You work out regularly, all you need to do is be more purposeful in the next few weeks.”
I know you can do it.
Soon, I was reading material on mountain climbing and learning as much as I could about mountaineering. It dawned on me that I needed more than a desire; I needed more than a dream; I needed intensive preparation. With a growing sense of urgency and quite a bit of trepidation, I read and prepared intensely. I sweated out jogging and walking longer distances at least four times a week, through plains and over hills. I lifted weights in the gym, did push-ups in the living room, I rope skipped in the garden. I acquired books, searched the Internet, and talked to people who had climbed mountains.
I was about to venture into an environment for which my body and mind were neither adapted to, nor prepared for. As my moment to climb Africa’s second highest mountain edged closer, the unfolding reality, especially the enormity of the challenge, now seemed substantially different from my earlier romantic suppositions.
Then in April 2009, I joined the excursion. Standing at the foot of my towering dream, I started to feel like I could scale it after all.
I know you can do it.
Copyright ©2014 David Waweru