Expect the unexpected.

Be the hero of your own life story. ~ Gerard Butler from WALL-E

One of my favorite quotes; it seems appropriate for today’s update.  At 11:15 AM Chicago time, my phone rang.  It was Howard calling from their camp at 12,500 feet.  I was expecting an excited, triumphant phone call.  Instead he relayed that Ben was the only one of the three of them to have successfully reached the summit.  At approximately 17,500 feet Max started to experience altitude sickness.  They attempted to continue but it only worsened.  If you aren’t familiar with the effects of altitude sickness, I’m not going to describe it here but suffice it to say that it devastates the body and psyche of the individual and can be very dangerous!  As a result, at 18,300 feet Steve and Howard chose to descend with Max.  Ben and George continued on to the summit with the assistant guide.  Howard felt fine but as you can imagine, he was not going to leave Max for a second.  I was able to speak to Max on the phone and he sounded good.  He said he was fine with not reaching the summit…and Howard said he was fine with it too.

In my eyes, they are all heroes!  First, kudos to Ben for separating from them and continuing with George and reaching the summit at the age of 14!!!  He did it!!!  Of the 3 of them, I think that this was most important to Ben personally and so I am thrilled that he did it!  I haven’t seen his photos yet but I will post them when I get them.  Second, kudos to Max for recognizing that his health is most important!  He’s only 17.  If he wants to ever try again, he has plenty of time.  Third, kudos to Howard for not only allowing Ben to go on without him but also for staying with Max (as it is likely that Howard may choose to not attempt it again.)  No one can take away from them that they reached 18,300 feet!!!  This is an amazing accomplishment in itself and I’m really proud of all of them!  They each did the right thing for them in the moment!

And so…in the immortal words of Howard’s high school gymnastics coach and mentor, Seymour Rifkind, “Expect the unexpected” continues to be true.  Tomorrow I expect to hear from them when they get back to their hotel where they will rest.  They will then go see the site where Louis Leakey found the oldest known human bones.  On Christmas day we will all reunite and I can’t wait!

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