I ended my last post sharing some insights which were shared with us at a Woman’s Day event, by Kerry Miller. The second memorable and inspirational speaker was Saray Khumalo. Saray had us so captivated that you could hear a pin drop. Saray’s story is one of resilience, persistence and massive self belief. After all, what possesses an African ‘girl’ to take up mountaineering, let alone summit Everest?
Saray’s story was filled with failures. Only after several failed attempts, did Saray finally summit Everest in May 2019. Saray has proudly raised more than a R1million towards various causes, with every climb that she has done. Her mission is to make a difference and to be a inspiration to other African girls.
What struck me about Saray’s talk was not only her grit and determination, but it was how she learnt so much from each failure, and applied those lessons back to her program as she prepared for her next climb. She narrowly escaped death on one of her climbs, but even that would not stop her. Everything that she did to improve her fitness, strength and technical skill, was for one thing and one thing only – to summit Everest. She even changed who she had on her team to ensure that she would make it to the summit.
What did I learn from this talk?
- Kilimanjaro is a trek, not a climb; and so summiting Kilimanjaro does not qualify you as a mountaineer. I still think people who have summited Kilimanjaro are rock stars.
- You should not take the notion of summiting Everest (or any mountain for that matter) lightly. This is serious stuff. People lose their lives on these mountains every year.
- You have to be slightly crazy to live your dreams and make them a reality. If you’re not crazy enough to do what it takes, you’ll probably get ‘talked down’ by all of the rationale people around you.
Summiting Everest may not be your thing (and I can assure you, it’s not mine), but you have your own ‘Everest-like’ dream/goal/aspiration. I guess the big question is: are you preparing for it? Are you setting yourself up to be ready for when your moment arrives? Are you crazy enough to do it, even when everybody around you says it’s a crazy idea?
If Saray Khumalo, an African girl from Johannesburg can summit Everest, what’s your excuse?
Photos taken in Cervinia, the Italian Alps, December 2016.