Yes, we can! Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Africa’s tallest peak and a glamorous star of myth and folklore. Dennis Welsh, always the daring traveler, pushes creative boundaries wherever he goes and this time it was “Yes we can” to a spectacular Kilimanjaro wilderness adventure.
About 10 years ago, Dennis was hiking with his then 6-year old son Grady in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. “Mt. Jefferson was his first 4,000 foot peak in the Whites, and I had reservations about whether such a little guy could tackle the big day ahead of him,” says Dennis. With a Camelbak strapped on and a peanut butter- and-jelly sandwich in his pocket, Grady ventured forth and made easy work of the climb. Proud and in awe, Dennis thought they might one day tackle Kilimanjaro.
The years went by faster than they thought. Dennis made the offer again and this past summer now 15-year-old Grady said “Absolutely, let’s do it!” Gear was packed and our daring duo headed to Tanzania for the climb to the roof of Africa. “I don't think I had ever set a date 10 years out on my calendar, but here we were,” says Dennis. With a camera strapped to him all his life capturing travel, lifestyle and people all over the world with a passion, all he had to do now was go higher than he had ever been in his life. It took six days to reach the summit at 19,341 feet. It was tough going but each day was a joy. As they climbed among the clouds to the roof of Africa, they captured breathtaking and transcendent views.
On the last day, they left high camp at midnight and started for the summit. Headlamps on, their field of view was limited to a small wash of light shining on the trail just a foot in front of their boots. As they crested the crater rim and headed even higher toward Uhuru Peak, the air became very thin. Father and son experienced a sense of ease and contentment in a moonscape environment of rocky debris.
Dennis and his son reached two summits that day. Reaching the top, an intrepid boy was transformed into a confident young man with a proud father guiding him every step of the way. Now we all get to share in the climb to the House of God.