My darling Wealth Chef family
I must warn you this video is anything but polished. It is raw and rough – actually it’s me that is raw and rough not the video but as I descended Mt Kilimanjaro after reaching the summit during what was possibly the toughest physical, emotional and mental journey I have ever taken, and after hearing about the death of my fellow climber and friend Gugu Zulu I had to stop and share my thoughts with you.
But I’m jumping ahead – the story starts further back…
…About a year ago I started asking myself and others this question:
“What is a Wealthy Life? Once you have a solid financial foundation in place what are the other components and aspects of life that when combined together make up a Wealthy Juicy Life well lived?”
The answer has been coming to me in fascinating ways all year, mostly through experiences and travel rather than intellectual mind mulling, so when I said a BIG YES to climbing Mt Kilimanjaro for The Nelson Mandela Foundation as part of the 2016 Trek4Mandela group to help raise money to keep girls from poor communities in school, I knew I was in for some juicy learning!
I just never imagined quite how much!
As my amazing expedition guide, Sibusiso Vilane said as we departed on our adventure, you don’t conquer mountains nor do they aim to conquer you. The mountain was there before you climbed it, and it will be there after you leave. What you conquer are your own limitations and beliefs about what you are capable of and discover strategies to pull out resources within you that you possibly never imagined you ever had. In this way the mountain is a great teacher. Enabling you to discover what it is you need to learn through experience – the most powerful teacher of all.
Mount Kilimanjaro, stands at 5895 meters (19,340 feet) above sea level in Tanzania and is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
The climb was extraordinary, the first 4 days being tough due to the altitude, climate and conditions but they were magnificent and beautiful too as I climbed through 4 vegetation zones and connected with amazing people. Facilities are very basic so no washing for 6 days too but since it was damn cold it was a relief to not have to get naked ;).
Then the summit day arrived and boy – I never imagined how deep I would need to draw on my internal resources to walk just 6km to stand on the top of Africa for 15 mins and then turn around!
But those 6km were up an almost vertical scree strewn side of a volcano at over 19 000 ft (5895m) elevation where each breath felt like a teaspoon of air and in -20 degree centigrade (-4 f) temps not including the wind chill. Those 6km took 9 hours!
During those 9 hours another battle was being fought – this time for a life. Three hours before we left at 11 pm at night to summit a dear friend, fellow climber and a role model to thousands of South Africans – Gugu Zulu – started having serious difficulty breathing and was rushed down the mountain by 6 porters carrying him on a metal stretcher. There is no phone signal that high and no facilities, so in the dark Gugu had to be carried down the mountain for over 30kms. His wife Letshego had been climbing with us too and she ran down that mountain beside him throughout the night. I cannot even begin to imagine her journey that night.
I set off for the summit believing Gugu would be fine as soon as he was at a lower altitude – sadly it wasn’t the case and my 38 year old friend died as they arrived at the base gate at almost the same time I reach Gillman’s point. The first of the three summit points.
I reached Ururu considered the true summit and the highest part of the mountain.
Standing on top of my beloved Africa was incredible and at the same time bizarrely anti-climactic as it really dawned on me that it is actually the journey that is the extraordinary part – not the end.
I can say with absolute certainty that I would never have reached that peak without my guide Pascal. That night I discovered not only what a Guardian Angel is but also why some journeys cannot be done without a guide and what you need to draw on when even your BIG WHY and vision is no longer enough to keep you going. I share these learnings in the video.
It then took a further 7 hours to descend and get to a lower camp for the night, and that was the first time signal got through and news of Gugu dying reached me. What a crazy mix of emotions.
A further 20kms walking the next day to the gate, a night of tears and massive emotion with Gugu’s wife and my fellow climbers and then a return to the most crazy onslaught of media I have ever experienced waiting for us when we landed in South Africa. That continued to make this a week I will be learning from for a while to come.
I am writing this here to say thank you to you for being part of the Wealth Chef family, for choosing to be an inspiration in the world by living your life to the fullest, for saying yes to your vision and by doing so helping others say yes too, – and mostly a thank you for helping me say yes to life and experiencing what a real wealthy life is.
Please watch the video and excuse the state of my severely frost bitten lips, eyes swollen from dust, sun and tears and hair that hadn’t seen water in a week. Behind the surface of my dishevelled, exhausted and emotional state I think there are some powerful lessons on what it means to live a Wealthy Life, the purpose of setting ourselves challenging goals and why some journeys cannot be taken without a guide.
When you’re done watching I’d love to know in the comments below:
What barriers do you need to remove to get on with living your audacious, juicy, wealthy life and are going to let go of the excuses and say yes to experiencing it all?