The Conclusion of The Big Climb
Orphans Africa (OA) is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt charitable organization that began in 2007 with the coming together of three ordinary people whose desire was to build peace between nations by providing assistance to those who are most vulnerable.
The ground had accumulated four to eight inches of snow over night; it was a rigid 18 degrees outside, wind chill of negative three degrees and the winds blowing at a constant 30-35 miles per hour. The atrocious weather made it impossible to see and the night’s storm robbed the teams of a majority of their rest. This was the day of the summit, Friday, September 2nd.
None of the guided or private parties, aside from Bill’s team left for the summit. After about a two-hour delay, the team could finally see well enough to rope up and depart from their huts. Yet, the night’s storm formed drifts that without the guides it would have been impossible to find a trail. As the team made it through the snow on this dark morning to Cathedral Gap one of the climbers slipped. His injury took him, two volunteers and one of the guides back to Camp Muir leaving the team at 11 climbers to attempt to summit.
11,300 feet, Ingraham Glacier, three more climbers and a guide decided to head back to Camp Muir, leaving only eight climbers. Though everyone was beat, the visibility worsened, and the temperature dropped the remaining eight moved forward to Disappointment Cleaver. Likes it’s name this stop had left the team with a setback. Disappointment Cleaver is an exposed rock/ice formation at 12,100 feet elevation and was now covered in 6-18 inches of snow. The partnership between the possibility of avalanches and the harsh weather and continually declining visibility determined that the team had to turn around.
The disappointment with turning around was juxtaposed against the relief of heading home. Though the team was relieved the descent was no easier than the assent. In fact, the most dangerous point of the climb is the descent and as the team headed down another climber slipped, leaving his things to be distributed amongst the other team members. Painfully climbing down from Camp Muir the remaining eight made it together to the place where the climb had begun, the Paradise parking lot.
What a feat! The assent may not have lead to a summit but this accomplishment has been a success for Orphans Africa. Though Bill says “this was one of the most harrowing experiences of [his] life,” through his process he wasn’t shy of reminding everyone that it was for the kids. The Big Climb or known to most as Bill’s Big Climb brought in enough to put towards our many projects to help educate orphans in Africa. Orphans Africa is beyond grateful for Bill, his team and all of his supporters.