Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Because is the cause.

It seems, of late, I have been preoccupied with climbing things. Take for instance W. Brett Wilson at today's 7 Virtues Middle East Peace perfume launch.

But that's another story.

Even the 20-something plumber looked climbable today. Maybe it was his prognosis – that my 40-something furnace would survive another minus 30º-something winter. Or, maybe it was his working man's hands. Hands that could snake a drain without buying it dinner first.

But that's not my point.

I think I want to climb Kilimanjaro.

I know! How fucked up is that? I schlepped the Inca Trail, lost 3 toenails, and swore I'd never sleep in a tent or shit quinoa out my ass at 100 mph whilst hanging on to a tree. Ever. Again. Waking up at 3am to race the last 6km to catch the sunrise on Machu Picchu. I hated it.

I loved it.

The Peruvian sky at 4am. The Southern Cross. Dazzling – like the Christmas tree lights – just before you toddle off to bed – broke, drunk, and exhausted, allowing Santa time to work the room.

To quote Cousin Sarah, when I asked her to be my wing man on Africa's highest peak. "Climbing Kilimanjaro involves the two things I hate most : Walking. And vomiting."

Vomiting is a symptom of Acute Mountain Sickness. More common at 19,341 feet than on a lounge chair at a Caribbean all-inclusive. The success rate for reaching the summit is around 60%, although most adventure travel brochures crank it up to between 80-95%. The last time I entertained conquering Africa's tallest bitch, coincided with Martina Navratilova's failed attempt to ace Uhuru Peak – which prompted the Little Bastard to say, "Mom, if that she-man can't do it, you haven't got a chance".

But toenails grow back.

And the world is full of naysayers. If I listened to them, I wouldn't be who I am. There would be no Little Bastard. There is always someone willing to piss on your Corn Flakes. And there's a little voice in my own head saying "the Cayman Islands are nice." But as much as Kilimanjaro scares me to death – I have a few friends fighting cancer right now. If they can face that miserable C-word with courage and grace – who am I to let a mound of earth, diarrhea, and oxygen deprivation stop me? In a twisted way, I am more afraid of NOT climbing the stupid thing.

My cause is because.

Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" has a scratchy, woolen underlayer of death and regret. "Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain [...] said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngaje Ngai', the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude."

I don't think it was a leopard. I think it was a cougar. And it wasn't seeking anything. It was just looking at the stars.