Eddie, I have been forming this letter in my mind for many months now. I summited with a wonderful group of climbers last October and as each day progressed it was clearly evident. “WHY TUSKER” became easier to answer. Our local event coordinator, and point person before we left, Haley Brunello, was enthusiastic and positive each time we talked to her. The porters and the guides, Saimon, Gaudence, and Kombe were professional and helpful in many facets. Their belief in “safety, then summit” was reassuring from the outset.
As I was the oldest of the group at 69, I had some reservations about getting to the top. It soon became evident that all were as determined to get me there as I was! Whenever we finished a particularly difficult section of the trek, such as the Barranco Wall, I would ask the guides, “Can I make this?” They came right back with, “Why not?”
As we approached summit day, it was felt that perhaps I should leave earlier with a head start on the rest of the group. I was the slowest perhaps, but I was determined to do whatever they said to do to help me achieve my goal. Make no mistake, for young and old alike, this is an arduous undertaking. But, as the reality came closer, I learned to not look up, but just keep plodding ahead, “pole, pole’ with each step.
As we discussed getting to the top the night before, it was felt that perhaps I should leave earlier than the rest of the group to allow time to get there when the group did. I felt that was a great idea, and I left for the summit at 4:00 AM with Gaudence and my friend Merle, who volunteered to go and keep me company. He is a very accomplished climber, and was a huge asset in getting to the top. That was the spirit and the camaraderie that this group had. Whatever was needed to help all reach the summit was what was done! Of course we had our safety porter with us as well.
The thought of going up 5000′ was a daunting one, but we went one step at a time, and soon we were close to our goal. As we neared the summit, the fog and drizzle closed and it was as if we were walking through a cloud. Each person on the climb, as we got closer, thought about someone or something special in their lives to motivate them forward. Past relatives, family, and in my case, my father-in-law who had jumped at Normandy on D-Day at the young age of 23. It was an emotional experience. As we approached the summit, and could see the sign, we broke through the fog. As we did, I heard the porters and guides yelling “the Babu is here, he has made it!” They circled me and did a dance around me as I walked up to the summit. It was one of the highlights of my life!
WHY TUSKER? Very easy to answer.
Many thanks to you and the guides and porters for a wonderful experience!