In my book "Soft Courage" Yannick Penguin tells the exciting tale of how he learnt 'friendship' on the Eiger - The infamous Swiss mountain which strikes fear to hearts, having claimed so many lives.
It was 30 years ago and we were part of "Climb For The World on behalf of the United Nations" with representatives of every continent climbing up different sides of the Eiger for a summit meeting. Demonstrating a coming together of nations in friendship...
I was representing Australasia, having an Australian passport. Yannick of course was representing Antarctica. And we climbed with the lovely African, James Kagambi (KG), who taught us to shout wild Kikuyu climbing calls across the mountain - informing us afterwards they all meant "Yo Man!"
We came up the Eastern Mittellegi Ridge, terrifyingly knife-edged - in some places like riding a horse with one leg dangling into space a mile down over the North face, the other dangling a mile down the South. In these conditions if your partner on the rope falls one side you have to be prepared to jump quickly down the other... I found it scary, but was able to relax when KG quietly stopped and played his harmonica.
He danced that night on the summit as we spoke the message from the UN Secretary General " While the power to destroy the Earth is concentrated in a few hands, the power to save it is widely dispersed" - a reminder that we are all on this Earth together like climbers on a climbing rope... Then we slept curled up against the snow
This May 2022, 30 years on, at the age of 62 and with dodgy knees, James Kagambi has been part of the first all black team to summit Everest!!
Also the first Kenyan!!!
KG, I salute you. And am proud to have experienced your warm friendship. Huge huge CONGRATULATIONS!!!
May your effort and achievement on Everest also spread friendship between nations
Friendship between nations...