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Love, Respect, and Perserverance



Photos: Ben at the summit and Max and I at about 17,500, resting on a ledge.

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to follow-up our adventure with a personal update from me.  Now that we are home, I have had the opportunity to reflect on this amazing experience.  First, I want to thank Anne for updating the blog every day, even though we gave her very little information during our brief satellite telephone calls.  She did an amazing job.

I am also thankful for everyone who followed our climb.  I was amazed to hear we had almost 900 followers on the different social media we utilized.  

 
As many of you know, this was our second attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Two years ago (after 2 years of training) and one day from the summit, we had to abort when I fell ill.  The boys were extremely disappointed and I knew, if at all possible, that I needed to give them a second opportunity to summit.  Thus, we continued to train.  Then a year ago, Ben’s collar bone was broken in a soccer game in November which ended our plans to go last winter break.  We continued to train.  Finally, this year, we were able to go and give it a second try.  To date, we have been in intensive training for four years.   
 
The only other climber with us on this trip was our guide’s son, George.  George is the same age as Ben (14) and he has never left Tanzania.  However, he goes to school where they teach in English even though his native language is Swahili.  Max and Ben met George two years ago and have kept in contact via email.  During the ten days they spent together, they shared stories about their homes, the foods they eat and their religious beliefs.  For instance we celebrated Hanukkah on the mountain and lit a menorah each night even at the highest elevations.  The boys explained the story of Hanukkah to George.  Throughout the 10 days , I heard them teaching each other words in English, Swahili and Hebrew.  It was amazing to watch these three young men from completely different cultures share this life-altering experience.  By the way, while George lives within 1 hour of Kilimanjaro, he has never climbed it and told me he knows of no other friend of his who has ever climbed it either.
 
I am pleased to tell you that Ben summited the mountain and made it all the way to Uhuru Point, 19,341 feet.  This is the highest point in all of Africa.   Max and I made it to Stella Point, the second highest point,at 18,885.  Here is the back story.
 
There are about 9 routes on Kilimanjaro and they range in difficulty.  However, they all converge and in the end there are only three routes to the summit.  Locals have given these nicknames: Coca Cola (easiest), Whiskey (middle difficulty), and the Double Whiskey ( most difficult).  The Double Whiskey route involves what is called the western breach.  All other routes involve only a steep hike.  I am told that the western breach is attempted by less than ten percent of all climbers and requires a special waiver form to be signed.  The reason for this is because of it’s difficulty, high risk and the fact that there have been many deaths along this route.  The western breach is a portion of the climb that runs from about 15,000 to 18,000 feet.  It is a vertical rock face that requires a steep hike, turning to scrambling, bouldering and then rock climbing.  This is all done in heavy winter gear, you start this portion of the climb at 4:30 A.M., and the temperature is about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  The western breach is also prone to high winds and rock slides.  Several years ago, while camping at the camp where you start this assault, Arrow Glacier, three climbers were crushed by a rock slide.

We started our climb on what is known as the Lomosho Route.  However, after three days on this route we then headed toward the western breach, rather than following the normal Lemosho route.  From this point until our descent, we saw no one else.  The next day brought us to Lava Tower (14,500) and also the place we turned around on our first attempt.  From Lava Tower we climbed the following day to Arrow Glacier (15,500).  These are both very remote.  Arrow Glacier sits close to the base of the western breach.  It has a strange feel to it because you sense you are sitting under the summit and are facing a vertical rock face.  The winds can be very high here and as soon as it got dark, the temperature dropped quickly.  We had dinner and made our final plans for our summit attempt the following day.  We then climbed into our sleeping bags and tried to sleep.  Around midnight I awoke to a sound I had not heard on the mountain before.  It was a large rock slide.  It sounded like the earth was just moving and falling.  This was even stranger as it broke the silence of the quiet night.
With this background, here is how our summit day unfolded.  We arose very early and at 4:30 A.M., in full winter gear with our backpacks and 7 liters of water each; we began our assault.  It was very cold and as dark of a night as you have ever seen.  The stars of the southern hemisphere filled the cold crisp sky.  I was in awe of the night sky.  The climb started with a steep hike, then turned to more of a scramble and bouldering.  As we rose from 15,000 feet, a few hours later the sun came up and the ice covering many of the rocks began to melt.  The plan was that the western breach would take us 4-5 hours, and then we would rest on the crater rim, eat and then make the final assault for the summit which would be another 1,000 foot steep climb.  Within a few hours we began to shed some layers and were making good progress, on what was now a rock climb.  Due to the nature of this section there are no harnesses or ropes to assist.  Spirits were all high and we all felt that it was only a matter of time until we all made the summit.  However, around 17,000 feet, Max advised me he had a slight headache.  Max had these during the trip from time to time, but they were usually resolved by drinking more water.  By the way, on the mountain, you need to drink between 6 – 9 liters of water a day in order to handle the altitude.  So our guide and I consulted and we agreed Max would drink some water, rest for a few minutes and take some Ibuprofen. 

We then pressed on.  At 17,500, Max told me he was nauseous and the headache had worsened.  We stopped on a rock ledge, and then Max became sick and vomited.  Our guide and I consulted one another about our options.  Descending along the western breach would be dangerous and would pose a high risk of falls.  We agreed that finishing the breach was the only option, and at that time we could determine if Max could continue or if a rapid descent would be necessary.  After being sick, Max felt better and we continued our climb up the rock face.  This was very slow due to the nature of the rock face, winds, and slickness of the rocks.  A 17,700, Max told me while drinking water that he wanted to close his eyes and go to sleep.  This is a dangerous sign that can accompany High Altitude sickness.  The problem with being at this high altitude is that the high altitude sickness can progress very quickly (as short as 1-2 hours) to a life-threatening situation (HAPE or HACE), and thus descending quickly is necessary.  Due to Max’s condition it took us almost two more hours to finish the breach from this point.


We made it into the crater at about 18,300.  Both the entry point to make an assault on the summit and also the location for a rapid descent require crossing the crater.  The crater looks like a desert on one side and there is a glacier on the other side.  As we crossed the glacier, it was like a blizzard with a hard driving snow.  As we crossed the crater, Max vomited twice more.  At high altitude, circumstances change very rapidly, and the wrong decision or failure to be decisive in your decision-making can lead to death quickly.  Both our guide and I knew at this point that Max’s well-being and life required a rapid descent.   As you cross the crater the route to the summit came first.  Max and our guide wanted me to go to the summit and they would descend.  Max’s condition was so dangerous, I insisted that I forgo the summit and descend with him and the guide.  So I told Ben he would go to the summit with George and the assistant guide and I would descend with Max.  Ben and I spoke quickly, and it was extremely emotional for both of us.  I then gave him a hug and a kiss and he turned toward the summit.  He disappeared into the snow within a minute and I could no longer see him. 
 
In order to get Max down, we had to climb up and through Stella Point at 18,885 ft.  In the snow we did this as quickly as possible and then began our rapid descent.  This was a slope with crushed lava and we began almost a skiing action through this area.  Within about 40 minutes, we had descended to about 16,500.  Max ‘s color and level of consciousness were improving as we descended.  I was having difficulty keeping up with them, and felt I was slowing them down.  So I sent our guide and Max ahead, as I knew the faster he descended the better Max would feel and that the risk to his life would be decreased.  We agreed I would wait in a small cave at 16,500 until our summit group came down and I would descend with them.  Max and the guide then disappeared into the snow.  About 1.5 hours later, Ben came casually walking down the mountain with a big smile on his face.  By the way, he was wearing his HP winter hat! We hugged on the side of the mountain and began to descend together.  We talked about his great accomplishment and shared our feelings of what has just taken place.  We passed through a camp at 15,500 feet about 1.5 hours later and were told Max passed through earlier and was feeling better.  He continued on to high camp at 12,500.  Max knew that by going lower he would decrease his risks of an adverse outcome.
 
We eventually reunited with Max at high camp at 8:30 P.M. 16 hours after we started our summit attempt.  Max was feeling well.  The next day we finished our descent in about 8 hours and Ben received a certificate from Tanzania for reaching the highest point in Africa and Max and I each received one for reaching the second highest point.
 
I am so very proud of both of them.  This is one of the most difficult things I have done in my life.  Max and Ben never complained about the training, the route, the cold, or the long days.  They were focused and embraced this with their souls.  When fast decisions had to be made, they both did what had to be done.  Max never gave up.  He never cried.  He understood that he had to finish the breach, climb even higher, and then descend as fast as possible to save his life.  High altitude sickness not only is physically debilitating, but psychologically it is devastating too. When it strikes there is an overall feeling of despair that causes many people to give up and die.  Max did not give up.  He persevered and did what had to be done.
 
Ben was amazing.  He was focused the entire climb.  Our guide said he has never seen a boy Ben’s age be so strong both physically and emotionally.  To reach the summit, you have to be willing to give 1000%.  Ben did this and more, as in the end, he had to finish the last 1000 feet without us by his side.  He had to climb on even when he knew Max was physically in trouble.  To remain focused in this situation is unbelievable.

I titled this post “Love, Respect and Perseverance”.  Early in the climb as we hiked through the foot hills of Kilimanjaro and over a plateau at 12,500 feet, which was formed when another volcano exploded millions of years ago, I had time to think about many things.  What kept going through my mind over and over again is how lucky I am to have a family who embraced my dream and who agreed to live it with me…twice.  In this very dangerous place, the love I share with my family made me stronger and better. Not only were Max and Ben with me, but so were Anne and Shayna.

I use the term respect for two reasons.  Max and Ben were focused throughout and never lost sight of our goals.  They have my respect because this was very difficult. Hiking one day or sleeping in freezing temperatures for one night is difficult, but doing it day after day is a whole different situation.   The way they handled themselves on the mountain impresses me and for that and about a million other reasons, I respect them.  I also use the word respect because the mountain is something which is beautiful, enormous and dangerous all at the same time.  On the mountain, things change very quickly.  The weather changes by the second and your body changes that quickly as well.  One minute you feel great, and within minutes you feel terrible and debilitated.  So for these reasons, I respect the mountain.

Finally, I use the word perseverance because that is what it takes to reach a large goal.  Max and Ben have shown they have perseverance and this makes Anne and I so proud.  Perseverance also comes into play with our MDA campaign.  We have received a lot of support from everyone and I know that we have made good progress to our goal of purchasing an ambulance for MDA.  This coming week I will obtain an update from MDA about what we have raised and will post the amount here as soon as I receive updated figures.

Finally, many people, including Anne, have asked me why we climbed the western breach and not one of the easier routes.  My answer is simple.  We climbed the Western Breach because we could!  (Note from Anne here:  I’m really glad they kept me in the dark about this.  Hearing about it afterwards was scary enough.)

Thank you all so very much for your support and good wishes.  And we look forward to celebrating once we reach our goal of raising enough money to purchase an ambulance for MDA.

Mountain of Greatness

It turns out that  Mt. Kilimanjaro actually has three summits.  Uhuru Peak is simply the tip top and the most famous!  This is the peak Ben was able to reach.  However, Howard and Max did reach a different recognized summit known as Stella Point.  This means that technically all three of them successfully reached a location that is a recognized summit and received certificates of achievement when they returned to the gate to check out.  While they did not get to experience the euphoria of triumphing Uhuru Peak together; all three DID SUMMIT!!!!!

The certificate looks like this:

When I spoke to them about 10:30 AM Chicago time, they had just arrived back at The African Tulip.  Howard said the descent was “brutal”.  I don’t yet know the details of Max’s ordeal but I do know that although the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the high peaks of the Himalayas or Andes, the high elevation, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatisation is essential, and even the most experienced trekkers suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema or high altitude cerebral edema can occur.  All trekkers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia, and headaches.  The average summit success rate is 66% with over 25,000 visitors attempting it annually.

The Origin of the Name

The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name. But according to the 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia, the name of the mountain was “Kilima-Njaro” and it means “mountain of greatness”.

After four years of training, two attempts and a lot of grit, motivation and heart I am proud to say that while the journey did not meet their dream ending of standing triumphantly atop Uhuru Peak together; it met our family goals and our parenting goals.  It bonded them in a way that cannot ever be taken from them!  Both attempts are experiences they will never forget and along the way they reached personal goals, faced challenges, made life-altering decisions, stayed motivated; showed grit, and made friends all over the world.  The “mountain of greatness” proved to be just so…but it didn’t conquer them.  They conquered it…and Max and Ben are stronger young men for the experience.  Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy!  They have learned this and that is the best thing of all.  On top of it, they raised money for a worthy cause and became global citizens with a global awareness we could not have given them sitting safely at home.

So it is that I end this daily blog.  I cannot get over that this reached 894 people yesterday.  It is mind-boggling!  When Shayna and I went to breakfast today, half the restaurant stopped me to say “Congratulations!” or “How are they?” Incredible!

I will post again when I have stories and photos to share…or perhaps they can each post their own account of their experience.  In any case, thank you for supporting our family and following this journey with us!

Sincerely,
Anne

P.S.  You can still contribute to their Magen David Adom ambulance fund if you’d like!

 

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!

Summit Day!!!!!!!!


Summit Day!!!  As I write this, Howard, Max and Ben should be reaching Uhuru Peak – the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet!  They woke up at 4:00 AM to summit today.  As it is now 10:30 PM Chicago time, they should be just about there!   When we spoke to them this morning, they said the hike yesterday was cold, rainy and snowy but that now it is too cold for rain so they expect snow only!  It’s a really long day for them today because not only did they rise early to summit (a 4 hour climb on its own) but they then plan to hike another 8 hours down to a camp at an elevation of 12,500 feet.  So I don’t expect to hear from them again until around noon tomorrow.

They are feeling good and are in very high spirits!  This is the culmination of a long 4 years filled with unexpected twists and turns, starting with Howard’s reaction to the malaria pills and their untimely and disappointing descent to Ben’s broken collarbone and putting it off another full year, yet continuiing to train throughout. They have all trained so hard and had to keep their goal in mind with both physical and mental stamina.  As we’ve always told the boys, this has been more about the journey than the end goal.  They have learned so much and I am so very excited for them all!  If they can do this, they can accomplish anything because they now know that success takes a lot of time, effort and follow-through.  It doesn’t come easy or quickly or without its pitfalls.

I believe they will be seeing the sunrise on the summit of Africa so I will end with this photo.  What a gorgeous view!  When they send me photos, I will share them with you!

4th Day of the Climb

Today we again heard from Howard, Max and Ben as they were preparing to have dinner and spend the night at 12,500 feet at Shira Camp 2.  They said that the next day’s climb would take them up to Lava Tower and then back to Shira Camp 2 where they will spend the night again.  This is an altitude acclimating day.

The day’s planned hike:
•Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower and back to Shira 2 Camp
•Elevation (ft): 13,800ft to 13,000ft

•Distance: 7 km
•Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
•Habitat: Semi Desert

From the Shira Plateau, they move to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As they continue, their direction changes to the South East towards the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth.” Shortly after the tower, they will come to the second junction which brings them up to the Arrow Glacier at an altitude of 16,000ft. They then continue back down to the Shira 2 Camp at an altitude of 12,500 ft. Here they will rest, enjoy dinner, and overnight. Although they will end the day at the same elevation as when they started, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help their bodies prepare for summit day.

On a personal note, today marks our 21st Wedding Anniversary.  Howard’s zest for life is one of the traits I love about him the most and I would never stop him from pursuing this dream.  Shayna and I can’t wait to reunite with them next week!

Here is a link to a cool website / blog called:  Have Camera Will Travel and it shows photos and describes the Lemosho Route 8-day climb by photographer David Coleman.  This is significantly better than anything I can describe here.

 

3rd Day Climbing

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest summit at 5895 meters tall (19,341 feet). Kilimanjaro is a giant dormant stratovolcano, famous for its glacial cap and wide biodiversity, particularly its cloud forest. Montane ocotea forests cover the wet southern slope, cassipourea and juniperus forests on the dry northern slope, and subalpine Erica forests at the highest elevations above 4000 meters.
Photo credit:  Photograph by National Geographic Channels/ Rob Taylor

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest summit at 5895 meters tall (19,341 feet). Kilimanjaro is a giant dormant stratovolcano, famous for its glacial cap and wide biodiversity, particularly its cloud forest. Montane ocotea forests cover the wet southern slope, cassipourea and juniperus forests on the dry northern slope, and subalpine Erica forests at the highest elevations above 4000 meters.

Today Howard, Max and Ben will climb to 12,500 feet and spend the night at Shira 2 Camp. We were excited to hear from them again this morning with our second satellite phone call! The reception was actually pretty good!  Since it is summer in the southern hemisphere and they are close to the equator, it is 90 degrees in Arusha.  In 3 days of climbing they have dropped 50 degrees and are definitely headed into subzero snow conditions.  

Some Interesting Facts from National Geographic:

  • At 5895 metres (19,341 feet) tall, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world (rather than being part of a mountain range).
  • It now takes the average person a minimum of between 6 to 9 days to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit, depending on which of the 6 available routes is taken. The success of ascending to the summit is also dependent on which route is taken – the overall average of successful ascent to the peak is 45%.
  • Glaciers constantly evolve. They melt and shrink in dry season but regenerate in the wet. However, since 1912, Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice cap, and 55% of its remaining glacier fields since 1962. Scientists predict all ice on the mountain may disappear within the next 20 years.
  • Kilimanjaro supports five ecosystems: savanna bush land, sub-montane agro-forest, montane forest belt, sub-alpine moorland and alpine bogs, and the alpine desert.

Second Day Climbing

Dec. 16, 2014

This morning Shayna and I received our first satellite phone call!  Howard called to let us know they had reached Forest Camp and were getting settled.  As I write this they are waking up for their second day of the climb.  Today they will continue walking in the Rain Forest zone.  They will go through 5 separate temperate zones on the climb.  Tonight they will stay at the Shira 1 camp at 11,500 ft. elevation.  They have seen Colobus and Blue Monkeys.  Here is a visual of the Lemosho Route.

Umbwe Route Map 3d

Lemosho Route profile

Thank you to Ultimate Kilimanjaro for their awesome visuals and detailed information.

…Aaaaaaand they’re off!!!

Dec. 15, 2014

Today was a stellar day communication-wise!  Shayna and I got to talk to our boys twice!  This morning they called to wish us a good morning.  They had spent the day poolside doing homework and resting from the long airplane rides.  They unpacked and repacked for the climb and met with Steve to prep. Then they walked around Arusha a little bit.  They called again at 9:00 PM our time after they woke up (it was 6 AM Tuesday morning for them).  As I write this, it is 9:00 AM for them and they are in the car for the 3 hour ride to the location where they check in for the climb known as Londorossi Gate.  They have to pay the fee and sign the register.  Then they’re off with a short 5 hour hike to their first camp site – Forest Camp.  They are climbing the Lemosho Route.

The Lemosho Route is widely considered to be the best route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Not too long ago, there were only two main routes used to climb Kilimanjaro – the Marangu (Coca Cola) route and the Machame (Whiskey) route. But as Tanzania’s tourism industry flourished, the Kilimanjaro park authority created more trails to African’s highest peak.  Lemosho, a relatively new route, is preferred by reputable operators due to its beauty, remoteness and success rate. In short, it maximizes the chances that a climber will reach the summit, and enjoy the experience overall.

Day 1

•Londorossi Gate to Forest Camp
•Elevation (ft): 7,800ft to 9,500ft
•Distance: 6 km
•Hiking Time:3-4 hours
•Habitat: Rain Forest

The trek begins at Londorossi Gate, located in the western base of mountain, within its lush, fertile rainforest. The route heads across the Shira Plateau, before circling along the southern circuit halfway around the mountain, exposing the climber to great views from all angles. The approach to the summit is made from the east, and the descent follows the Mweka trail. With eight days (seven nights) on the mountain, your chances of reaching the “Roof of Africa” are very high, around 90%.  The Lemosho route is approximately 70 km/ 42 miles from gate to gate. It is designed for physically fit people with some hiking experience. The table below depicts a variation of the 8 day Lemosho climb with starting and finishing points, altitude, distance and hiking time. This is considered to be the ideal Lemosho route variation.

Here is a short video showing some of the amazing scenery on the Lemosho Route.

Africa’s Highest Summit

Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits, is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from base to summit. Kilimanjaro is also the most prominent mountain in Africa.

Arrived Safely

Hello!  This is the first post for Operation Climb: Magen David Adom – The Sequel.  Howard, Max and Ben left the house yesterday afternoon at 1:00 PM (Chicago time), arrived in Amsterdam around midnight our time and then arrived at their hotel, The African Tulip, in Arusha, Tanzania at 1:00 PM our time. So it is a full 24 hours door-to-door.  They called and I was able to talk to them for about five minutes.  It was 10:00 PM Sunday night for them and they had just ordered dinner and then were going to bed.  I expect to hear from them again tonight around 11:00 when they wake up.  Then tomorrow morning they plan to call us again between 7-8 AM to talk to Shayna.  After that, it will be hit or miss as they will begin climbing Tuesday morning.  They are 9 hours ahead of us.

They were in good spirits when they left.  They got really lucky as one of their bags broke as they were carrying it out to the car and they were able to trade it out!  This time, Grandma Dolly and I were also more prepared. We actually left about 5 minutes before they did and took Shayna straight to the American Girl store on Michigan Ave. to get her first AG doll.  Howard, Max and Ben also left us voice messages so we can hear their voices whenever we want.  Howard read about 10 chapters of the book they’ve been reading together into her iTouch so Shayna can continue the nightly ritual.

People ask me why I am “letting” them do this again.  First of all, you need to understand that they didn’t ask for my permission.  When it ended so abruptly last time, I knew they would be going back.  In fact, until Ben broke his collar bone in a soccer game, they were supposed to go last year at this time.  They’ve never stopped training so in effect, they have now been training for a total of 4 years and Howard felt that it was “unfinished business.”  He knew that while he made the right decision last time, the boys didn’t get to complete the climb and reach the summit and it was through no fault of their own.  If you know my husband, you know that nothing goes “unfinished”.  Plus, they still haven’t raised enough money for their ambulance and now it is needed in Israel more than ever.

And so here we are…a little older, a little wiser…  Last summer, Howard tried a different malaria medicine which is easier on his system.  Plus, this year, we have a 2 year relationship with their guide, Steve and his family.  In fact, Steve’s son, George, is an email pen pal of Ben’s.   George is joining them on the climb too!  In fact, Steve and George picked them up from the airport (an hour drive each way).  I like that they have global awareness and friendships with people around the world.  So it’s different this time.  Howard and I have agreed that if he has altitude sickness, Max and Ben will continue without him.  I hope and pray that doesn’t happen but as we learned two years ago, “Expect the unexpected.”   I feel confident that they will summit this time!  I will continue to keep you updated as best I can!

Anne