The NY Times baseball bog has the story of RA Dickey reaching the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. From what I just read, I would never want to try this. I hate heights and the weather sounds horrible to deal with too. You also can’t forget about the yetis either.
This is from RA Dickey:
We had been briefed at our 5 o’clock dinner that night that we were leaving for our summit attempt at 10:30 p.m. sharp. This was for two reasons. First, as we ascend the mountain, the rocky skree that litters the steep trail to the peak will be frozen and less likely to give way under our boots. Second, leaving at that time would allow us to reach the summit as the sun was peeking up over the eastern glacial ridge. However, I believe that there was a third reason, one the guide intentionally never discussed. Psychologically, if we were able to see the sheer steepness and distance of the trek, it would have been defeating.
I put my earphones in and turned on my fully charged iPod to distract me from the elements. I had made a summit mix before the trip and cranked it up as loud as it would go. Four songs in, the iPod froze even though I had it in one of the pockets on an inner layer. Now, it was just me and the mountain.
Another hour passed and it seemed as if the climbing got significantly more arduous. We had passed a half-dozen people who had to stop and turn back because of fatigue or altitude sickness. The extreme gradient of the slope partnered with the duration of the ascension to form a tag team that was kicking my butt.
I thought of my family back home playing games, and what the kids were doing in school. I began to think of the money we were raising to help the Bombay Teen Challenge. I visualized pitching to the all the teams in the N.L. East, batter by batter. I thought of anything I could to distract me from the misery I was in. Finally, about seven hours into the climb at around 18,500 feet, I had to ask our guide to stop. I sat on a rock to the side of the trail feeling nauseated and lightheaded.
We were at 18,800 feet. There were climbers all around who had collapsed from fatigue or were experiencing severe symptoms of altitude sickness. Dave Racaniello, a member of our party, also began to feel poorly.
Joshua talked to him, and decided it was best to give him a hit of oxygen. That allayed his symptoms, and we continued to Uhuru peak.
Goon: Yeah, I definitely never doing this. NEVER.
After another 550 feet of gentle climbing, we reached the summit just as the glow from the sun was trying to make its way over the eastern part of the mountain.
We had done it! We gave hugs and high-fives all around above the clouds at the highest point in Africa.
The view was unforgettably magnificent, as incredible as anything I have ever seen. But as I took time to contemplate, I realized that the reason the view was so rich was the overall experience of the trek.
Goon: From meeting RA a few times with some of the other bloggers you know he really means this. You can tell that he was glad to get up to the summit, but all the hard work getting there made it worthwhile and even more special. Kind of sounds like his baseball career. With all those years of hard work and hard times in baseball you can see he really loves and appreciates his career.
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