How Do You Say “Failed Mountain Climber” in Swahili?
LL missed this item from the gals at the Reliable Source this morning about the president of LL's fan club/superlawyer/failed D.C. Council candidate A. Scott Bolden, failing to reach the summit of Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro.
But after a few days of climbing, he took ill in the thin air of base camp. Bolden was determined to soldier on for the final push to the 19,341-foot peak—but at 17,000 feet, hallucinations hit: "Flying dragons!" he said. Then he just kind of toppled over. A medic was about to do mouth-to-mouth before Bolden summoned the strength to wave him off. "Oh God," he moaned. "It was awful."
They ordered him off the mountain—on a stretcher. Two porters steered him down the cold, bumpy path, but lost control—and Bolden went rolling down the slope, the men chasing after him. He walked the last couple of hours, overheating through the rain forest, and visited a hospital briefly. But yes, he survived—and still wants to finish those last 2,300 feet.
LL does not like to mock the infirm. But he was of the impression that Kilimanjaro wasn't that tough of a climb. (LL was once right next to Kilimanjaro, but only had money to spend on a safari, so skipped it—but the other travelers he met said it was an easy, if kind of long, ascent.) A quick Google search both confirmed and cast doubt on that impression:
- "It's a marvelous trip, but it's a beginner's climb," says Todd Burleson, owner of Alpine Ascents International, a Seattle company that leads up to 10 Kilimanjaro climbs a year. "All you're doing is hiking, but you're gaining altitude, too."
- The most popular trail for climbing Africa's highest mountain is dismissively known as the "Coca Cola route". It has comfortable huts for tourists to sleep in, food and drink is for sale and the paths are thronged with climbers. But while it's fair to say that climbing the nearly 6,000m Kilimanjaro is not akin to climbing Everest or K2, it's still something to be approached with care.
Well, regardless of the difficulty, LL is glad Bolden made it back to the District in one piece so he can enjoy his new epithet: Failed mountain climber A. Scott Bolden.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery