Despite his youth, Raymond is a veteran of Kilimanjaro. He grew up in a Chaga* village within sight of the ice-capped mountain. He started early as a porter and worked his way up through the ranks. Today he is a lead guide with Kandoo Adventures, a premier trekking company based in the U.K. In alpine conditions—pleasant, adverse, and everything in between—he oversees expedition teams that sometimes number more than 50 people, counting porters, assistant guides, support staff, and clients.
During the climbing season he alternates between a week at home with his family and a week in the mountains with clients.
I asked him how many times he has summited the 19,341-foot peak. He guessed with a laugh, “maybe a hundred.”
That kind of duty can make a man cynical, arrogant, or weary. But not Raymond. He is patient, soft-spoken, and generous.
It is an honor to call him friend.
*The Chaga people migrated from elsewhere in Africa to the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro sometime in the 11th century. They are high-elevation specialists and agriculturalists who grow coffee, bananas, and millet. They are numbered among the earliest tribal groups in East Africa to convert to Christianity.
**For more on Kandoo Adventures, see their webpage here.
I cannot say enough good things about the friendships that are born in the mountains. Facing, tackling, and overcoming challenges in the context of teams is as rewarding as any experience I have known in life.
It is a blessing to work with positive professionals like Raymond. Time and time again, my faith in the human spirit and thankfulness for divine grace is renewed.