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THE STAR OF KILIMANJARO

2016-05-31 来源:未知 浏览量:76
Whenever I was asked about how I climbed up the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, I always told the story so light-heartedly, as if out of the dream in the famous story by Hemmingway. Deep down, my emotion is of both sorrow and pride, and long afterwards, I am still trying to grasp the true meaning of what happened there and then.  
In 2012, we departed the base camp half an hour before midnight. The initial climb was just fine. I focused on pacing and breathing, and maintained cadence. Sufficient oxygen inhalation was the critical trick to keep up. The air was thin, but the scene was beautiful. In the sky, stars loomed large and bright, echoed by the headlights of the climbers, which lined up like a shining string of pearl on the eternal mountain ridge.
Before long, the brutality of the raw nature caught on us. My limbs became numb from the cold, I could barely hold my alpenstocks. The wind was howling, I felt that my strength was slipping away with it. I was tempted to stop to catch breath, only to be met by a strong revulsion of the stomach. I nearly cried, but I knew I couldn’t – my tears would freeze right away on my face.
For a moment I really regretted about this suffering of my own choice, and I missed dearly the warm caressing of my sleeping bag. Soon enough, I did not even have strength for regretting. My moves became completely mechanical. The only thing remained in my mind was to follow. Follow, not knowing how far away we needed to go. Follow, as if that was the last thing to do on earth. Follow, the only sound I heard were our own footsteps. Turning around was easy, one just needed to inform the guide, and that was how my team kept on dwindling. But I followed, steadily, the few lights ahead. When I grew up, the stories I heard about overcoming adversities were always full of drama and glory. Mine had none. In retrospection, I realized I finally reached the pinnacle only because I never thought about giving up, not for a second. My mind simply had no space for that.
On our way down, in both physical and mental exhaustion, we caught a glimpse of a black helicopter passing above. Only after returning to the camp we learned that just as we reached the peak, a Korean girl from another group, passed away from acute altitude sickness on the climb. She was of my age, and I had the same itinerary in this trip. She had fair skin, an energetic pony tail, and was always very polite when I saw her about the camp. Her life pulled to a sudden stop, with so many beautiful things waiting for her ahead. I was stricken with a sudden dizziness, as I realized that the one who was on the helicopter could have been myself.
That night, back in my cozy sleeping bag, I could not stop thinking of her. Perhaps I should have convinced her to give up and cancel the climb. But perhaps, in her short life, she had seen and experienced wonders that many people would not for their entire lives. I could not decide for her which was better – she already picked. A complex emotion stirred within me, and I would not fully come to peace with it for a very long time. However, one image remained steady in my mind: her large, bright headlight on the mountain ridge, leading the way. I promised myself that I had to carry on with what she left off, and cherish every moment in life. I would be able to draw strength from her bravery no matter what was ahead. I knew that I would always try best, and I would remember her with that brightest star on Kilimanjaro.   
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