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Climbing Kili—A Labor of Love, The Summit

We had been trudging uphill for over 6 hours in sub-freezing conditions when we finally saw the legendary sign. We had reached the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Or so we thought. In a final dirty trick, some genius felt that “Stella Point” was worth marking and affectively crushed the souls of every hiker to attempt the summit. Not only were we not at the highest point, but we had another hour of painful “pole-pole” walking ahead of us. I could have punched a baby. A really cute baby.

But on we went and finally, at 8:30am, we were there—Uhuru Peak. 19,341 feet above sea level. 341 ft. higher than the cruising altitude of our plane from Nairobi to Arusha. 9,301 feet higher than the steepest run at Heavenly Resort it Tahoe. Stupid high. And stupid cold. Photo ops were limited to less than 2 minutes and there was no room for redo’s. Other groups were freezing and waiting their turn, so get in/get out was the name of the game. Unfortunately for me, I failed to realize how unflattering my circa 1982 rental jacket was and it will now be immortalized in the moment’s photographs forever. Alas, you can’t win ‘em all.

Erin and I both carried remembrances of our recently deceased grandparents—a small toy cat that her grandmother was particularly fond of, and a handful of my grandfather’s ashes. I carefully went about the task of selecting a location for the ashes, which proved to be difficult with my brain literally in the clouds and my feet so numb that I was seriously concerned about amputation. The winning spot was on the internal western rim where both the sunset and sunrise can be seen. It’s cold up there, but it’s epic, just like my grandfather Max. Hopefully a future Biggs will trek to that same spot and say “Cheerio” to him once again.

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