Guide Jake Norton is in Africa kicking off Challenge21, a four-year project in which he will attempt to climb the Triple Seven Summits—the three highest peaks on all seven continents. The challenge is an effort to draw funds and attention to one of the world’s greatest crises—water and sanitation—while raising $16,763 for Water For People.
Story by Jake Norton
The mountains always humble me. They have an uncanny way of subtly—and sometimes not so subtly—reminding me that life is short, and that I am fortunate and should not take for granted any of my good fortune.
I kept thinking about all of this today as we moved to 13,300-foot Camp III in the Rwenzori. Again, it was a tough day, and the Maker of Rain decided we’d had enough dry air and decided today to send some showers our way. We all quickly donned our First Ascent BC-200‘s and were kept dry and happy. But the rain couldn’t be kept from the trail, which got even muddier as we moved along. But we had fun, laughing through it, and everyone—Ned, Tim, Barb, Charlie, Collin, Dan—are hanging in despite the tough conditions and enjoying themselves.
At any rate, I kept thinking about good fortune because this morning, thousands of miles away, my daughter, Lila, was returning to school. I can see her now, with a favorite Toy Story T-shirt on, a pair of jeans (she will wear nothing else), and her Toy Story lunch box (are you seeing a theme here?), marching off to school to learn and grow in the company of great teachers and great friends.
School … It’s something many of us take for granted. As we trekked today, I spoke with William, one of our Ugandan guides, about our children, school, etc. I mentioned Lila heading off to school today; William’s children attend school as well. But, we also spoke of the millions of kids in here Uganda who are not so lucky. Across the country, kids Lila’s age are carrying water from distant wells rather than carrying books to their classrooms. Some of them are too sick from water-related illness to attend school. And, some of them will die from those illnesses.
These are the kind of issues Water For People is working so hard to solve. This is the reason we’re climbing in the Rwenzori and raising money for Water For People. Lila is indeed lucky. So are William’s children. They are healthy, they’re happy, they can go to school. But, this shouldn’t be lucky—this should be normal. It’s something all kids should be able to do.
Tomorrow we move a bit higher, up to Camp IV. The terrain here keeps getting more stunning, and more challenging, as we move upward. It’s an amazing range of mountains, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
P.S.: You’ve no doubt noticed that these dispatches are, sadly, without images to go along. After 4 hours of working the sat phone last night and praying to the sat phone gods, I finally came to the realization that the connection here in the Rwenzori is not robust enough to send images through. That may change as we get higher, but currently we’re in deep valleys, limiting my sat phone connectivity. I’ll send what I can when I can!
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